In Depth

Diego Costa: an 'utter sod' who turns fans into hypocrites

Chelsea striker could face a retrospective ban after Arsenal wind-up show gets Gabriel sent off

Chelsea striker Diego Costa has been described as the "last of the utter sods" after his part in the incident that led to the sending off of Arsenal defender Gabriel Paulista on Saturday.

But the Brazil-born wind-up merchant could still face punishment if referee Mike Dean, who sent off two Arsenal players during the match, which Chelsea won 2-0, says he missed Costa's confrontation with another Arsenal player, Laurent Koscielny, which precipitated the first red card.

It was a masterclass in provocation from Costa, who "escaped with a yellow card after a series of indiscretions, which included thrusting his right hand and then his left arm into Laurent Koscielny's face before chest-bumping him," reports The Times. "He was then involved in a confrontation with Gabriel, whom he appeared to scratch, before the Arsenal defender was sent off for kicking him less than a minute later."

There was widespread condemnation of the Spanish forward after the match. Furious Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger called Costa's behaviour "disgraceful" and "disgusting".

And one current player, Alou Diarra, once of Liverpool and now playing for Charlton, described Costa as "detestable", reports the Daily Star.

However, former Arsenal defender Martin Keown told Match of the Day 2 on Sunday that he would have "loved" to have faced him,

In remarks reprinted by Daily Mirror, he said: "Costa has a black belt in the dark arts. He plays his opponents as much as he plays the match, constantly trying to draw a reaction from and bully defenders. I'd try to overpower him and then give him a taste of his own medicine by reacting like he does. I'd look for the help of the referee: if you fall over, so will I."

Writing for website Football 365, John Nicholson disagrees with Jose Mourinho's post-match assertion that Costa's antics were in keeping with the rough and tumble of the Premier League. 

"This is a league full of athletes, sprinters and expensive haircuts... They're all muscle and no gristle. It's pretty much Costa and Costa alone who is trying to keep up the game's great tradition of being an utter sod."

Not charging Costa would send an "appalling message" says John Cross in the Mirror. "Costa is very clever at what he does. And most managers, fans and players alike would like him on their team. He is a brilliant wind-up merchant and also a very good striker. But on Saturday, in my view, Costa crossed the line."

Former Spurs and West Ham boss Harry Redknapp, writing in the Daily Telegraph, describes him as a "streetfighter" who turns fans and managers into hypocrites.

"If he is playing against your team, you hate him. You think he is a complete nightmare, horrible, but the bottom line is simple... We would have all loved to sign him."

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