25-year-old Costa and 28-year-old Falcao were brought to the Premier League in the summer from Spanish champions Atletico Madrid and French outfit AS Monaco respectively.
Diego Costa was brought into a Chelsea side who finished third last year due to their lack of firepower upfront, not because of any incapabilities defensively.
Meanwhile, Radamel Falcao was signed by Louis Van Gaal for a Manchester United team who, under David Moyes at the time, finished a dismal seventh last year, a season after the Red Devil’s won their thirteenth Barclays Premier League title.
Both team’s are expected to be fighting to be crowned England’s best football club and both sides needed to bring in a high profile striker to do so, which, unsurprisingly, both did.
So the question is, who is the better striker? The bullying, aggressive Diego Costa or the clinical Colombian Radamel Falcao? Let’s put them both through numerous questions;
Who is the better goalscorer?
The most basic of questions for any striker, the hardest thing to do on the pitch is put the ball in the back of the net, both strikers are more than capable of doing this regularly, but who will score the most goals?
Well, Diego Costa led his former side Atletico Madrid to the Spanish title and the Champions League final, scoring 35 goals in all competitions last season.
After just one season, many pondered whether he would adapt to the English game or if he was destined for the striker’s curse at Chelsea.
He has answered those questions already this season, scoring 7 goals in 4 games for the 2012 Champions League winners.
Radamel Falcao was brought to Old Trafford on deadline day and has not yet been given time to prove himself due to the international break.
If he can keep up his goalscoring record that he has accumulated since 2009 though, then Manchester United fans are in for a treat this season.
Since 2009-10, Colombian striker Radamel Falcao has scored a mind blowing 104 goals in 139 appearances for Porto, Atletico Madrid and Monaco combined.
Given that Costa has only really had one consistent goalscoring season and looking at Falcao’s record, it is hard to argue that the latter wins this one hands down.
Who offers more to a team?
While Falcao is a force to be reckoned with in front of goal, what he fails to offer is any willingness to drop deep and help link up the play, his country, Colombia, found it merely impossible to play him as the lone striker until the inclusion of James Rodriguez, who would play in behind Falcao, meaning the striker would not have to drop deep in order to receive the ball.
The 28 year old is a real threat from set pieces which any team would find useful, Falcao possesses a huge leap and his ability in the air is a contributing factor to his impressive goalscoring record, he is so difficult to mark.
The Monaco man on loan to United is, and it is not necessarily a bad thing, nothing but a goalscorer. He will not track back and help out his midfielder’s and is unwilling to receive the ball from deep. Falcao will need good delivery, particularly from the flanks, and if he gets it, expect to see goals.
Diego Costa offers much more than Falcao in terms of build up play. The Spanish international is a willing runner and has no problem providing an extra number to the midfield if needed.
The 25 year old is also more competent at picking the ball up from deep than Falcao. Technically assured, Costa can dribble pass one, two even three men to present himself an opportunity to shoot or lay the ball off.
He is also a physical presence. Costa has the strength required to hold the ball up to give time for his team mates, particularly wingers in Chelsea’s case, to overlap and create options.
Diego Costa undoubtedly wins this duel. Unlike his counterpart, Falcao, Costa gives his side an added dimension with his passing, physical presence to hold the ball up and his ability to beat opposition defenders to create chances for himself. While Falcao relies heavily on those around him, Costa is more of an individual in the sense he can make things happen for himself and team mates.
Will both stay fit for the majority of the season?
While both are world class phenomenons, both also struggle with persistent injuries. A worry for both sides’ managers’ who need their star men.
Costa has had problems with his hamstrings for a while, arguably due to Atletico’s reliance on him last season, playing him in the Champions League final when he was clearly unfit, and the added World Cup fixtures with Spain would not have helped matters too much, either.
While Costa underperformed at the World Cup, possibly because he was not entirely recovered, Falcao missed the tournament in Brazil entirely.
The Colombian international damaged his knee in January earlier this year and was not able to recover in time for the biggest tournament in world football.
Questions remain as to whether he has fully recovered eight months after it happened, and, although Falcao himself has declared himself 100% fit, it is unlikely Louis Van Gaal will rush him into regular first team football at United.
It can not be guaranteed that either of these strikers will remain fit for their sides campaign, both injuries can be a re occurring nightmare for any athlete. Neither win’s this battle, with both a liability with their respective injuries.
Which side got the better deal?
Diego Costa knocked Chelsea back £32 million for his services, and, while that may seem a hefty price tag for a striker who has had one good season, it can be considered a bargain, for Chelsea, at least.
All of last season Mourinho lacked a 20 goal a season striker, choosing between veteran Samuel Eto’o, former Newcastle man Demba Ba and £50 million flop Fernando Torres.
Chelsea now have the firepower upfront to win games, and Costa is the focal point of that attack. While the likes of Fabregas and Hazard may pop up with a few goals this season, Costa is the one winning games.
Falcao was brought in to Old Trafford on a season long loan with an option to buy permanently for £43 million at the expiration of his loan deal, should he impress.
I have already spoke of how little Falcao will offer in terms of approach play, but, with all the creative players around him at Manchester United in Juan Mata, Wayne Rooney and Angel Di Maria, for example, all Falcao has to do is what Falcao does best, score goals.
Diego Costa wins this one. £32 million for a striker who is three years younger than Manchester United’s number nine, offers more to a side and still scores goals albeit maybe not as many as the Colombian is a good deal. If Falcao hits top form though, make no mistake £43 million would be money well spent by United.
To sum up, both sides have got what they wanted and more importantly needed in the summer, and both managers can be happy with who they have upfront this season.
While Diego Costa is more of a complete player, creating opportunities for himself and others around him, he is not quite the goalscorer Falcao is.
Undoubtedly Diego Costa will continue to prove to be a massive hit at Stamford Bridge, and while he will still score 20+ goals a season, you can not argue with Radamel Falcao’s simply astonishing goalscoring record.
Are Chelsea finally going to see the best of Alvaro Morata?
The Spanish international has been inconsistent since his £60 million move.
When Antonio Conte sealed the signing of Alvaro Morata from Real Madrid in the summer, many Chelsea fans lauded him as one of the signings of the window.
He was an instant hit at Stamford Bridge following his £60 million arrival, scoring on his debut off the bench in a 3-2 loss against Burnley on the opening day.
Morata has been most commonly used as an impact sub especially at Madrid, but at Chelsea, he was quickly given the responsibility of spearheading the Blues’ attack.
He repaid the faith Conte showed in him early, notching a hat trick away at Stoke in mid-September.
There was early talk of him being involved in a four-way battle for the golden boot alongside Harry Kane, Romelu Lukaku and Gabriel Jesus.
Since then, it hasn’t worked out as well for Morata at Chelsea.
He went on a scoring drought soon after, although he did score a crucial winner against title rivals Manchester United in November.
He still received criticism, however, culminating in a poor performance against Arsenal in the Carabao Cup, where he missed several guilt edge chances to give Chelsea the advantage.
He then played 40 minutes in the FA Cup against Norwich, managing to receive two yellow cards in a matter of seconds, first for diving, and then for dissent.
The cold weather has been blamed for his lack of form, as well as a back injury which at one point Conte suggested could force him to miss the rest of the season.
The English climate is different to what Morata will have previously experienced in Spain and in Italy with Juventus, although whether that can be used as a real argument is debatable.
He proved that theory wrong today, finishing off a fine Chelsea move in one of the coldest games of the season.
The Spaniard has looked bereft of confidence in recent weeks and months, and it appeared that Olivier Giroud had overtaken him as Chelsea’s leading marksman until today.
Morata proved his class against a Leicester side that, had it not been for a late mistake, would have taken the current Premier League champions to penalties.
His well placed shot after an excellent Willian through ball opening the scoring before an audacious flick hit the crossbar.
Although not at the heights of the likes of Kane (24 goals) and Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah (28 goals), Morata has notched 10 goals of his own – a decent return considering he has missed a fair amount of games with injury in a team that is equally reliant on goals from wingers Eden Hazard, Pedro and Willian.
With the cold weather subsiding, if that can be used as an excuse for some of Morata’s poor performances, and Chelsea’s chances of silverware increasing with an FA Cup semi-final, now is surely the time for Morata to produce some of his best form and lead Chelsea’s charge going into the back end of the season.
Tieumoue Bakayoko disappoints again for Chelsea against Leicester City
The Frenchman looked to struggle against his FA Cup opponents.
Tieumoue Bakayoko was one of the big-name signings for Chelsea during the summer as the club tried to push on under Antonio Conte after their Premier League triumph.
The Frenchman had been a standout player for AS Monaco during their surprise Ligue 1 winning campaign and cost the Blues a reported £40 million.
Although they are one of the richest clubs in the world, that remains a big spend and they would have been expecting a first-team ready player.
That hasn’t been the case as Bakayoko has struggled to adapt to English football and has found himself sidelined for Danny Drinkwater on several occasions.
The England international is an experienced Premier League player, but he was brought in to provide cover. It is a worry that he has been performing better than the player brought in to partner N’Golo Kante.
Chelsea managed to qualify for the semi-final of the FA Cup with an extra-time victory over Leicester City. However, Bakayoko was underwhelming once again after being brought back into the starting eleven.
He lasted until half-time before being replaced by Cesc Fabregas. During the first half, the Blues were too predictable in central midfield as neither player offered creativity from deep.
Wilfred Ndidi was arguably the best player in that area of the pitch as he dominated Bakayoko and Kante for the first-half.
The summer signing from Monaco was booked just before the break and didn’t re-emerge for the second-half. It was another disappointing performance from him as he failed to take the opportunity provided by Antonio Conte.
During the match, Bakayoko had a tackle success rate of 33% and he failed to make a single key pass to influence proceedings in the attacking half.
It was obvious that he was lacking in confidence as he often chose the simple pass and wasn’t as aggressive as the Leicester midfield players that he was competing with.
As the season has progressed, central midfield has emerged as an area of weakness for Chelsea. They often play with two defensive-minded midfielders and that makes them predictable to play against.
Last season, Nemanja Matic was more dynamic in central areas and he wasn’t afraid to step into the attacking half to contribute to attacks. The decision to sell him to a rival club now looks a huge mistake as the Blues are less effective in the middle of the park.
It was hoped that Ross Barkley would provide more energy to that position, but he has struggled with injuries since moving to Stamford Bridge. Chelsea have a difficult task to save their season, as they must finish in the top four and lift the FA Cup to restore pride.
Bakayoko needs to have a strong end to his season if he is to prove himself worthy of another chance next season. There is likely to be a new manager at Stamford Bridge with Antonio Conte’s position looking more untenable by the day.
A managerial change will lead to a squad overhaul and the 23-year-old will be one of the first to go. He doesn’t offer anything different to Kante and his compatriot is far superior in every area.
His most ardent supporters will allude to his inexperience and suggest that he needs to be given more time. However, when watching him against the 21-year-old Ndidi, it became clear that he isn’t good enough for a club like Chelsea. He was outclassed and outbattled by his younger opponent.
Since Roman Abramovich bought the club, there have been several mistakes made in the transfer market. The decision to sell Matic and sign Bakayoko was another.
Manchester City 1-0 Chelsea: Three talking points from the Etihad
Manchester City managed to beat Chelsea for the second time this season as they continue their march to the Premier League title. The contest was far from entertaining, as the visitors showed no interest in playing football and instead to soak in pressure.
Pep Guardiola’s team didn’t have to get out of second gear and it was a more comfortable victory than they would have been expecting. The Citizens are now 18 points clear at the top of the table and remain on target for 100 points, which would be a superb achievement.
Meanwhile, Chelsea sit outside of the Champions League places and are now five points behind Tottenham in fourth position. They will need a near perfect end to the season if they are to avoid missing out on qualification for next season’s competition. Here are three talking points from the Etihad Stadium…
David Silva showed his class
The 32-year-old has been at Manchester City for the majority of their journey from Premier League also-rans to elite super club and he remains a crucial player for them under Pep Guardiola.
If he had been in the team for the entire campaign, he would be running Kevin de Bruyne close for the PFA Player of the Year award. He is a classy operator who seems to get better with age.
He got the important assist for the winning goal with a superb piece of play and that is becoming par for the course for the Spanish international. Silva completed 95% of his passes and made three key passes during the contest. Meanwhile, he was very good out of possession as he made three ball recoveries.
It has been incredible to watch Pep Guardiola get all of his attacking talent on the pitch at one time, but the improvement of both Silva and De Bruyne off the ball has helped achieve that.
They are now complete midfielders and capable of thriving in both halves of the pitch. The midfielder is a club legend and supporters will be hoping that he has a few years left in him.
Antonio Conte continues to make puzzling decisions
Last season, the Italian was lauded every week as his side won the league title comfortably, but he has failed to follow it up with a good second campaign. There have been a lot of problems for Chelsea this season including recruitment, tactics and player performance.
They have been reliant on Eden Hazard and as the campaign has progressed, the team have lost their intensity, which suggests they no longer believe in Conte.
Their 3-4-2-1 formation was revolutionary, but they have moved away from it frequently this season and haven’t been able to settle on a first eleven. That was one of Chelsea’s strengths last season. Gary Cahill and David Luiz have been sidelined, while Alvaro Morata has failed to replace Diego Costa sufficiently.
On Sunday, Conte chose to field Hazard as a lone frontman, but he struggled to impact the game in that role. He is best when having space in front of him to run into and he didn’t have that against Manchester City.
The Belgian international was isolated and touched the ball only 31 times. It was a tactical error and one that blunted Chelsea’s attack before a ball was kicked.
Ilkay Gundogan is flourishing in the middle of the park for Manchester City
The former Borussia Dortmund midfielder has had his problems since arriving in the Premier League.
He has suffered a few injuries and that has seen him struggle to secure a regular starting berth, but he has featured prominently in recent weeks and is perfect for the system. Gundogen recycles possession effectively and that is required, especially when the opposition team sits deep.
Gundogen touched the ball more than any other player on the pitch with 181 touches and was very good at distributing the ball quickly. He finished the match with a 96% pass success rate, which shows his role.
He wasn’t taking any risks and he didn’t have to. City have a lot of attacking talent and the German international isn’t required to try risky passes to influence the game.
Although Chelsea didn’t get on the ball much, Gundogen broke up the play when required with four ball recoveries. Fernandinho’s absence could allow the 27-year-old to secure the place on a permanent basis and he does offer more in the role, especially in possession. It was a strong performance and one of the standouts in a dull affair.
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