Stats Analysis: Chelsea's Diego Costa hits the ground running in Premier League debut
Diego Costa enjoyed an impressive debut in the blue of Chelsea, and did things that suggest he may be the first Chelsea striker to properly replace a certain Ivorian. He delivered a powerful and dynamic display that showcased precisely what it is that he offers to Mourinho’s side, and why people have been tipping him as the game changer for Chelsea’s Premier League fortunes.
First things first, the statistic that all strikers live and die by: goals scored. Costa’s goal wasn’t particularly impressive, he simply lashed the ball in after being in the right place at the right time, although it should be noted that this is a skill that most of the recent Chelsea strikers seemed to lack. They all count, and it’ll be great for him to have gotten off the mark straight away to help him settle and find his feet.
What probably impressed me most from Costa was his involvement in the general play. As can be seen from the chart, he was involved pretty much everywhere in the attacking half, and even contributed a little in the defensive side. He passed the ball more than Eden Hazard (though he did play a little longer), and in fact had an average position behind the Belgian, shown by the graphic below.
This shows a willingness and ability to be involved in the team play that Chelsea’s strikers last season absolutely did not have. He frequently showed up in wide areas for Chelsea, and this sort of fluid and interchangeable attack will be extremely helpful in beating the weaker sides, such as Burnley, that ultimately cost Chelsea the title last season.
An area where Costa will have to improve is in his aerial duels, he only won 3 out of 10 yesterday. At 6’2” he isn’t the tallest and aerial duels weren’t a large part of his game at Atletico, but Mourinho will need him to be more successful here to provide Chelsea with a solid and reliable out-ball. He did come up against very physical defenders in Michael Duff and the 6’4” Jason Shackell, and coming from the Championship they will be better experienced than some in dealing with the long-ball, but a player of his strength and size should be doing better.
Also, Costa picked up a yellow card in the second-half for diving. He anticipated a back-pass and tried to take the ball around Tom Heaton, and though replays suggest there might have been the slightest contact it surely wasn’t enough to bring him down. In the modern game you could argue that any contact in the box is a penalty, but personally I think it’s questionable that mere touches like that deserve a penalty.
Overall it was a really encouraging performance from Costa. After his disappointing World Cup there were a couple of question marks hanging over him, and there was concern that playing through injury at the back-end of last season for Atletico could have done some serious damage, but, although Burnley isn’t the biggest test he will come up against at Chelsea, he looked strong and powerful.
Were you impressed with Diego Costa’s performance yesterday evening? Can he fire Chelsea to the Premier League title? Get involved with the discussion in the comment section below or on Twitter @TBRFootball.