OpinionPaul McGrath

I would've loved a go at Diego

Paul McGrathBy Paul McGrath
IN YOUR FACE: Costa gets fired up - but that's because he's hungry
IN YOUR FACE: Costa gets fired up - but that's because he's hungry

ARSENE Wenger was outspoken in his criticism of Chelsea striker Diego Costa after Saturday’s game at Stamford Bridge – but I would have loved to play against a player with that much passion.

As a big Chelsea fan, I was naturally delighted with the outcome at Stamford Bridge – and, as my Mam is a big Arsenal fan, it made the victory for the team I have always supported so much sweeter.

There is no doubt that Chelsea deserved their 2-0 win and instead of criticising Costa, Wenger should have been chastising his own players for being stupid enough to pick up two red cards in the game.

Costa is a difficult opponent for any defender to control because he is in your face and he loves a battle, but this is a physical sport and we don’t see enough players like him in the game anymore.

Those kind of combative forwards used to get the best out of me and, the more intimidating an opponent was, the better I tended to play.

As a Chelsea fan, I worry when he squares up to his opponents because he can be a red card waiting to  happen at times.

Yet I believe he is the way he is because he has such a strong passion for the game and he is desperate to be a winner.

Arsenal have a player in Alexis Sanchez, who appears to have a similar type of passion, and that is why fans love to have guys like that in their team. 

Winners drive those around them to strive for more – and that is what I see in Diego Costa.

He is a Jose Mourinho (above) player in so many ways, as he has all the fighting qualities his manager calls for – and that is why he was so quick to defend him after the snipes from Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger.

What we saw on Saturday was an Arsenal team losing their cool in the face of an opponent who wound them up – and, like it or not, that is all part of the game. 

I thought Chelsea’s lead striker did well to hold it together because it was pretty clear that he was close to boiling over time and again in the heat of the London derby battle.

In the end, it was the Arsenal players who lost their cool, with Gabriel and Santi Cazorla guilty of letting their team down as they picked up red cards that swung the game in Chelsea’s favour.

For Wenger to come out after the game and have a pop at Costa was sad for me, and then to see Mourinho barking back at him again…. well, it makes a mockery of the game, to be honest.

These are two of the most significant figures in the modern game and they spend far too much time goading each other in press conferences. 

I get angry when I have to listen to the bull that Wenger and Mourinho come up with when they are talking about each other, as the action on the field is far more important that what they think about each other.

It’s good fun for the media to have these two giants going toe-to-toe in the verbal sparring stakes, but the two guys should be bigger than that at this stage.

The most significant statistic coming from the game was not Costa’s performance or the comments of Wenger and Mourinho.

No, this was a game that was always likely to have a massive impact on this Premier League season and, in an instant, Chelsea are back in the mix.

If Arsenal had beaten them at Stamford Bridge and extended their miserable start to the season, it would have put Mourinho and his team in a very difficult position.

Now they are just three points behind Arsenal in the table and the whole team looked stronger and more compact as they recorded a vital home win.

The horrible start to the season Mourinho’s men have endured took us all by surprise, but it was more like the old Chelsea last Saturday.

Don’t let Wenger’s words after the game cloud the reality that Arsenal made a mess of things at Stamford Bridge.

It’s not the first time they have done that either.