Blues 'extremely disappointed' with Costa's 3-game ban

LONDON • Jose Mourinho's persecution complex was pricked on Tuesday when Diego Costa was given a three-match ban by the Football Association. It came shortly after Arsenal's Gabriel Paulista had seen his three-game suspension overturned.

Chelsea striker Costa was found guilty of violent conduct during their 2-0 Premier League win over their London rivals on Saturday, when he raised his hands to the face of Arsenal centre-back Laurent Koscielny.

The flashpoint went unseen by referee Mike Dean.

Costa then became embroiled in an altercation with Gabriel, for which both players were booked.

Moments later, with the duo continuing to snipe at each other, the Gunners defender flicked his heel towards the striker. Dean reacted by sending the Brazilian off.

However, earlier on Tuesday, Arsenal won an appeal against Gabriel's dismissal.

A Chelsea statement said the club were "extremely disappointed" with the decision to suspend Costa. "We will await their written reasons before commenting further."

It is the second time that Costa has been banned for three matches on TV evidence during his short career in England. When it happened the last time - following his stamp on Liverpool's Emre Can last January - Mourinho was incensed. He is similarly upset this time.

There is the feeling at Chelsea that Costa plays on the edge but is almost always in control and knows how not to cross the line with anything too flagrant.

The staff at Chelsea do not feel that Costa acted violently towards Koscielny, even if it was clear that the striker was provocative, at the very least.

Brazil great Pele, speaking at the launch of an exhibition to mark his 75th birthday which falls on Oct 23, weighed in on the controversy.

The striker, who was famously kicked out of the 1966 World Cup by Portugal's Joao Morais, suggested that Costa would have been considered a petty criminal rather than a master villain during the 1950s and 1960s.

"Listen, this to me was so common," a smiling Pele said. "I suffered all my life with good marking.

"He's a very good player, everybody knows. This was one moment.

"The striker who bit someone, Luis Suarez, was worse than this."

The FA fast-tracked Costa's case so it was resolved before Chelsea's League Cup trip to Walsall yesterday. He will also miss Premier League games at Newcastle United and against Southampton at Stamford Bridge.

Interestingly, Chelsea have had more success with Costa out of the side.

In the 18 games without their first-choice striker, they won 12, drew four and lost two games. That translates to a 67 per cent win rate.

In the 44 games that Costa led the line, Chelsea won 26 (59 per cent), drew 12 and lost six.

The Spain international has got off to a slow start this season, scoring just one league goal.

At this stage last term, he had already netted eight times.

Still, the Blues would loathe to lose their hitman and would have to rely on Loic Remy and Radamel Falcao in their upcoming fixtures.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 24, 2015, with the headline 'Blues 'extremely disappointed' with Costa's 3-game ban'. Print Edition | Subscribe