The Premier League season was only a few days old when Diego Costa got embroiled in his first controversial moment during Chelsea’s opener against West Ham on Monday night.
He was booked after just 18 minutes, falling victim to one of the new Premier League rules for dissent. The striker then somehow avoided a second yellow for a tackle on goalkeeper Adrian, which caught him halfway up his shin.
To make matters worse for West Ham, Costa scored the winning goal with just minutes remaining in a 2-1 victory for the Blues.
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But, instead of apologising for his challenge and acknowledging he was fortunate to remain on the pitch in an interview after the game, he launched an attack on referees and the people in England for ‘targeting’ him.
“I am targeted here, by the referees, the people - if I do something, it's totally different than if any other players do [it]. It needs to be seen, that people targeted me,” he told Brazil ESPN.
For those that have seen Costa play, they know that the forward is often involved in controversial incidents - many of which he instigates himself.
Despite only receiving one red card during his Chelsea career, he’s missed eight matches through suspensions for his misdemeanours.
However, does he have a case?
According to Stats powered by Opta, and brought to us by Oulala, Costa isn’t actually top of the list of the dirtiest forwards. In fact, he doesn’t even make the top 10.
The list reveals how many fouls strikers have committed in this calendar year and, rather surprisingly, Costa is languishing in 16th place having made just 20 fouls.
Top of the list is Southampton’s Shane Long with the Irishman having made 30 fouls already this year. Trailing Long is Troy Deeney from Watford and West Ham’s Andy Carroll.
Another surprise is seeing Manchester United’s Anthony Martial fourth, having made 26 fouls.
Making up the top 10 are: Odion Ighalo, Marko Arnautovic, Aleksandar Mitrovic, Jordan Ayew, Graziano Pelle and Jamie Vardy.
With Antonio Conte arriving at Stamford Bridge this summer, it means that Costa now has a manager that is equally as hot-headed as himself. Conte was seen ranting and raving on the touchline throughout the match against the Hammers and celebrated wildly when Costa scored his winner.
Conte on Costa
And the Italian has defended Costa’s attitude and suggesting that he, too, is equally as passionate.
"Diego is a passionate footballer and sometimes it can seem like he is always on the edge when he plays," the Italian said.
"But I think that Diego is a good guy and a good player. He puts his passion into football when he plays.
"Sure we are both passionate - that is true! I need to calm myself first, before the players! When you show passion for football, it's fantastic," he added.
"If you have passion every day you can work very well."
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