Costa recaptures the legacy of Drogba: Cahill

Chelsea's Diego Costa after scoring the only goal of the match, a brilliant left-footed shot and his 12th League goal of the season, against West Brom on Sunday.
Chelsea's Diego Costa after scoring the only goal of the match, a brilliant left-footed shot and his 12th League goal of the season, against West Brom on Sunday.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

LONDON • Diego Costa is beginning to have the same impact at Chelsea as Didier Drogba once did, central defender Gary Cahill believes.

Costa has come to symbolise the club's transformation under Antonio Conte and ensured the Blues extended their winning streak to nine Premier League games with the winning goal against West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.

That goal, Costa's 12th in 15 league appearances this season, moved Conte's side three points clear at the top of the table ahead of today's trip to face bottom club Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.

And the manner in which the Brazil-born Spain striker created and scored an excellent individual goal in the final moments of the game recalled memories of the inspirational Drogba.

The former Ivory Coast international spent nine years at Stamford Bridge, delivering a succession of trophies to the club - including famously scoring the decisive penalty that secured them the Champions League trophy.

Cahill believes there is a comparison to be made between Costa - who is now in his third season at the club - and the Ivorian.

"Didier was a huge figure goal-scoring wise and also with his personality on and off the pitch," said Cahill.

"You need strikers like that and Diego has fitted in nicely. Since he's been at the club, he's scored goals but this season he's on fire. He is winning us matches."

Conte has no fresh injuries to contend with but may opt to start with Willian ahead of Pedro today.

Sunderland manager David Moyes has conceded that his side need to embark on another run of good form after the 3-0 defeat at Swansea on Saturday saw them return to the foot of the Premier League table.

The Black Cats had won three of their four previous games, but, with the bottom six clubs separated by only four points, a similar sequence of victories will boost their bid to pull off a fifth consecutive successful relegation battle.

Certainly they are in a better place in relation to form than when they failed to win any of their first 10 games.

"As a club, we've been in this situation many times before, so it's not something that's new to us," said Moyes. "Those recent three wins in four put us back in with a fighting chance, when a few weeks ago we weren't in with one.

"We probably need to go on a similar run like that another two or three times this season."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 14, 2016, with the headline 'Costa recaptures the legacy of Drogba: Cahill'. Print Edition | Subscribe