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Should Antonio Conte make the bold decision to drop Diego Costa against Tottenham?

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In the midst of, what is turning out to be, quite some title race in the Premier League, Chelsea striker Diego Costa has hit a purple patch of form. 

The Spanish international, who leads the club’s scoring ranks this season, having hit the back of the net on 18 occasions (four goals ahead of PFA Player of the Year-nominated Eden Hazard), has now failed to score in 490 minutes of top flight action.

In Chelsea’s 2-0 weekend defeat to Manchester United, Costa did little to further his cause. Seemingly unable to influence proceedings with his footballing ability, the 28-year-old could be seen carrying out his usual mischievous antics, for which he was duly awarded his eighth yellow card of the season.

Quite incredibly, the Chelsea frontman’s last five Premier League games have seen him commit 19 fouls, and pick up three cautions. In this time he has managed just three attempts at goal, while failing to fashion a single key pass for Antonio Conte’s table-topping side.

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To put the Spaniard’s plight into perspective, since he last scored: Tottenham‘s Harry Kane injured his ankle ligaments, causing him to miss three and a half games; Heung-min Son has scored five goals; Kane has returned to action; Kane has set up one goal and recorded one assist.

Against Jose Mourinho’s United, Costa failed to register a single shot on target, as the London outfit failed to manage a single accurate attempt in a Premier League game for the first time since September 2007 (which, coincidentally, also came against the Red Devils, at Old Trafford).

In addition, he was found responsible for losing possession on 23 occasions. Indeed, six misplaced passes, six unsuccessful touches and ten occasions in which he was dispossessed by an opponent epitomised an afternoon-to-forget for the former Atletico Madrid-man.

Costa’s miserable performances over the last month have to the resurfacing of January speculation, as reported by The Guardian, which linked him with a big-money move to China. While his long-term future is yet to be decided, Conte should undoubtedly consider the centre-forward’s position in the immediate future.

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Lying in the Spaniard’s wake is £31.5 million summer signing, Michy Batshuayi, who is yet to be afforded a Premier League start for his new club.

The former Marseille has made 17 substitute appearances for the league leaders – managing just one goal with this limited time – despite scoring on 17 occasions in 36 Ligue 1 appearances last term.

The Belgian international is yet to be entrusted by Antonio Conte, despite Diego Costa’s misfiring form. Perhaps now, with Chelsea having lost two games on the bounce, would be the best time for the Italian head coach to give him a fair shot at spearheading his favoured 3-4-3 system.

There is nothing to suggest Costa will not return to scoring form just as quickly as he has seemingly lost his scoring touch – after all, he is a player who thrives off frustration.

Nonetheless, with a number of key games remaining this season, starting with the weekend’s FA Cup meeting with title rivals Spurs, now could be the perfect window for Conte to make a tactical switch.

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Chris is the founder of The Boot Room. He is a Swindon Town supporter, having lived in Wiltshire for most of his years. His work has also featured on Squawka, Bleacher Report and Eurosport.

Chelsea

Three key takeaways from Crystal Palace’s transfer window

The summer transfer window drew to a close on Thursday.

Max Cohen

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Crystal Palace finished deadline day with the last-minute confirmation of the loan signing of Jordan Ayew from Swansea City. The Eagles finished the window with four total signings, but only spent a total of £9.5 million.

The south Londoners made do with a tight budget and held on to their crown jewel Wilfried Zaha, resulting in a successful summer. Here are three things we learnt from Palace’s transfer business.

Don’t believe the tabloid hype

The Wilfried Zaha saga was perhaps the most drawn out transfer rumour of the entire window, and as many Palace supporters had expected, it was completely unfounded.

Despite the numerous claims that Zaha had rejected a contract, was eager to leave to a supposedly bigger club, or was itching to play Champions League football, the Ivory Coast international remained at Selhurst Park.

The winger still has four years left on his contract, has spoken publicly about his love for the club, and will again be crucial to Crystal Palace’s success this season. Still an Eagle, Zaha’s status reveals the sensationalist nature of many tabloids that aim to create unrest when none is present.

(Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

Doing business on a budget is difficult, but not impossible 

According to The Guardian, Palace’s transfer budget was restricted due to the high wages being paid to star players such as Mamadou Sahko and Christian Benteke. Yet, in the face of these barriers, the club managed to secure a number of canny deals at a low cost.

Ayew was brought in on loan, goalkeeper Vicente Guaita and midfielder Max Meyer were free transfers, and Cheikhou Kouyate was the only purchase of the summer at £9.5 million.

Four players of top quality for less than £10 million represents astute business, and Palace should be applauded for conducting decent deals on a shoestring budget.

(Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)

Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s absence will be felt thanks to Chelsea‘s terrible transfer policy

Crystal Palace made it no secret that they were eager to bring Ruben Loftus-Cheek back to SE25 this summer, but unfortunately for both the club and player, Chelsea refused to let him leave.

On the face of it, it was an encouraging decision for Loftus-Cheek, as he would be finally handed consistent football at his parent club. Yet the loan signing of Mateo Kovacic from Real Madrid further pushes the England international down the pecking order at Stamford Bridge, leaving many to wonder why Chelsea barred him from a return to Crystal Palace.

In the end, the Eagles will miss his presence in midfield and will undoubtedly be frustrated to watch Loftus-Cheek wasting away on the Chelsea bench.

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One to watch: Derby County’s 19-year-old midfielder Mason Mount

Introducing The Boot Room’s 2018/19 One to Watch series…

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Mason Mount
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Mason Mount has arrived on loan at Derby County as a well-known quantity.

The Englishman spent a number of successful years in Chelsea’s youth academy, featuring under the Rams’ new assistant coach Jody Morris.

As a Blue, his progress has also been closely monitored by Derby’s new manager Frank Lampard, who was keen to bring Mount on loan after his stunning season in the Eredivisie with Vitesse.

Play Style

“He’s creative, plays from central midfield in an attacking sense, scores, and creates goals,” Lampard said after the announcement that Mount would be joining Derby on loan this season.

These characteristics will be important for Derby who will once again be chasing promotion this season.

Mount is a dynamic threat in an attacking midfield role.

His ability to make correct decisions in attacking transition phases should prove crucial in unlocking the potential of the array of forward-thinking talent Lampard has at his disposal.

(Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

The 19-year-old is always looking to take risks to advance the ball and play attackers in behind the defence.

Similarly, he ensures routinely accurate delivery from set-pieces and is capable of scoring from dead ball situations himself.

Depending on the formation Lampard will look to play at Derby, Mount could also be suited to play as a number eight – his ball-carrying quality is another one of his strongpoints that would be particularly useful in such a role.

Season Ahead

The 19-year-old has already proven his capabilities at senior level, but the Championship provides him with another chance to showcase his qualities to his parent club in a league with a different dynamic.

In saying this, Mount’s game should translate well to English football as it is not overly predicated on any particular style of football, nor is he reliant on a system being shaped around him. He is dynamic.

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Derby should target Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham, hand him the number nine shirt

Derby County are set to embark on the dawn of a new era under the management of Frank Lampard.

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Sky Bet Championship outfit Derby County recently unveiled their squad numbers for the 2018/19 campaign, on their official website, and the obvious omission from the list was the void of a number nine

The Rams have signed five new players this summer and it was thought in some people’s eyes that big-money recruit Jack Marriott, who arrived from Peterborough United, might be handed the famous shirt number

Marriott has taken number 14 and it leaves those of a Derby persuasion with a a sense of suspicion that boss Frank Lampard might not be quite finished in the transfer market just yet.

Ipswich Town striker Martyn Waghorn has been heavily linked with a move to the East Midlands, but given the money that the Tractor Boys are wanting to recoup for their star attraction, the Rams might be better off looking elsewhere to bolster their attacking ranks.

Lampard has already raided his former club Chelsea this summer to sign highly-rated youngster Mason Mount and a return to Stamford Bridge to request another favour might be in the Derby boss’ best interests, when it comes to signing a new striker.

Striker Tammy Abraham is not expected to get much of a look in under new Blues’ boss Maurizio Sarri and another loan move away from London could be on the agenda for the man who spent last season on loan at Swansea City.

(Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

In netting five goals from his 31 Premier League appearances at the Liberty Stadium he hardly set the league alight, but it is the form he showed during a loan spell at Bristol City that should tempt the Derby boss into a move for the talisman.

During his season-long stint at Ashton Gate he netted 23 goals from 41 games and was named the club’s Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year, demonstrating a devastating level of composure in front of goal at Championship level.

The Rams aren’t blessed with loads of pace when it comes to out-and-out strikers and Abraham’s youthful exuberance would make him a shrewd addition to Lampard’s new-look Rams squad, whilst a player of his ability would be more than worthy of wearing the number nine shirt.

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