Amidst their club’s deeply-entrenched battle for two domestic fronts this season, the Chelsea FC fans have been thinking a lot about their number 9 (read 19), Diego Costa.
The striker is undoubtedly the fulcrum of the team’s attack.
There are a number of facts which prove how important his role is for the success of the club and will remain so for the next Premier League season as well as their Champions League fixtures.
In his 31 Premier League appearances so far, the striker has scored 19 goals so far falling in the top 3 goalscorers in the league tied with Alexis Sanchez.
This shows his huge knack of converting so many draws into wins this season contributing as much as 15 points to his team in the tight games.
Played a huge part in Chelsea’s fine season
If Chelsea wins the title, it should be mostly attributed to his goals scored during those tight games.
Apart from these stats, Costa’s presence in the squad is highly desirable because of his integral role which fits well within the coherent unit built up by Antonio Conte in the form of a 3-4-3.
Conte’s physical fitness system has also allowed Costa to tremendously withstand a 90-minute game.
Besides, his physical presence, aggression, and playing style finely suit to his position and he is highly compatible to the swift passing play of the team’s final third.
However, there are some concerns surrounding his successful stay at Chelsea next season.
The Spanish international has recently faced a long seven-game goal drought, which cost the Blues points at a very crucial stage of the season.
This goalless period of Costa’s has been universally linked with his transfer rumors after a highly paid offer from the Chinese Super League side Tianjin Quanjian January, which itself is a great concern for the fans and to some extent for Conte.
It was claimed that the offer might have been distracting the striker leading to his unsatisfactory performance up front, or it might just be a natural dry spell as part of his performance curve.
Whatever be the case, Costa’s lack of performance up front shouldn’t be technically associated to his playing style considering the role and position of the striker.
The traditional number 9 role can make the lone striker vulnerable to isolation and it did that to Costa in a sufficient number of games.
That might also be the reason behind his highest number of offsides, 26, this season.
This constant isolation could have limited his steadiness in the attacking zone. This coupled with the distraction from the new offer must have psychologically impacted the 28-year old.
Henceforward, there shouldn’t be any further doubts on his capabilities as a striker and his future performances for Chelsea.
Drought finally behind him
His goal drought is finally over after the striker underwent harder training sessions following the defeat to United and some bench-time during the fixture against Spurs.
He showed in the 4-2 victory over Southampton that he can still thrive on the pitch and we must be hopeful that he would do so for the remaining fixtures, too.
The isolation issue associated with Costa’s lone striker role can be dealt with by allowing some flexibility for Costa to switch to a False 9 with Hazard as a False 10 in the partnership, while both players keep changing positions to beat their markers.
Since the False 9 role and an absence of a lone striker could be risky under the zonal marking and the overwhelming 4-2-3-1 formation in the Premier League, the interchanging of the attackers can allow them to find an outlet out of defense and they has done that so – remember the away fixture at Leicester City when Costa was benched and Hazard played wonderfully as a False 9?
Whatever the new attacking formation is, we must know that the lone striker is often a difficult position.
It would ultimately require more hard work to refocus the club’s attacking play as they will soon be facing competition away from England.
Costa’s departure would be a blow for Chelsea
I am sure Conte will find the most effective way to deal with this and utilize the best out of Costa, who is a brilliant striker and can help resume Chelsea’s winning ways.
The club would be at a loss if they lose Costa, irrespective of the financial benefits they may receive.
Written by Farkhanda Jabeen
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