Costa escapes reprimand, likely to return to action

Diego Costa (in pink bib) did not look too pleased when he was axed from the starting XI in Chelsea's match against Tottenham. The striker's form has dipped and he has scored only seven goals for the Blues since January.
Diego Costa (in pink bib) did not look too pleased when he was axed from the starting XI in Chelsea's match against Tottenham. The striker's form has dipped and he has scored only seven goals for the Blues since January.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Diego Costa is expected to feature in the Chelsea starting line-up for the Premier League game against Bournemouth on Saturday despite making his frustrations clear at being dropped to the bench for the draw at Tottenham.

The striker, who was relegated to the bench for the first time despite being fit, was an unused substitute on Sunday even though the champions did not have another centre-forward in their squad.

He opted out of the pre-match warm-up and post-match warm-down.

He also lobbed his pink bib in the direction of the manager as he returned to his seat in the dugout.

Chelsea do not intend to impose any internal disciplinary action on Costa for that apparent show of petulance. However, after his angry clash with manager Jose Mourinho on the stroke of half-time during the Champions League match in Haifa last Tuesday, they will monitor his attitude closely in training to be sure that he is in the right frame of mind to return to the starting line-up.

The players were given a day off on Monday but were set to report back yesterday to begin preparations for Bournemouth.

A home game against the joint-worst defence in the Premier League - Eddie Howe's side have conceded 30 goals already - would appear an obvious opportunity to boost Costa's confidence. The Spain international has scored only seven club goals since January.

His team-mate, Branislav Ivanovic, expects a positive reaction from the 27-year-old after the striker followed every other key player in finding himself demoted to the bench in what has been a difficult title defence for the Blues.

Costa is the only one of the senior players to have publicly aired his displeasure at not making the starting XI , even if Mourinho - who was without Radamel Falcao and Loic Remy at White Hart Lane - had suggested he was encouraged to see Costa's frustration at life on the sidelines.

"I expect Diego to come back strongly," said Ivanovic, who had captained the side at Spurs in the absence of the injured John Terry. "We start the season as a team and we have to finish as a team. This is important.

"When we start losing, we all know it's not about the one or two players playing badly or playing well.

"It's about the team.

"Diego didn't play at Tottenham but I know he'll be ready for the next game.

"He scored against Norwich - the winning goal - but it has to be all about the team in the moment.

"I think we all have to think about that. Sometimes, for a player who isn't playing, it's difficult but it is a normal situation for the club."

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 02, 2015, with the headline 'Costa escapes reprimand, likely to return to action'. Print Edition | Subscribe