Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown has branded Chelsea striker Diego Costa as a master of the “dark arts” for his no-nonsense approach that sees him go toe-to-toe with defenders in the Premier League.
Costa was the centre of attention at Stamford Bridge on Saturday after a clash with Arsenal centre back Laurent Koscielny, an incident that saw the latter fall to the ground after a shove from the Chelsea man.
The Chelsea striker was booked for the incident but in the aftermath Koscielny’s defensive partner Gabriel was sent off for kicking out at the Spain international, a decision that infuriated Arsene Wenger.
“Costa has a black belt in the dark arts,” Keown wrote in the Daily Mail. “He plays his opponents as much as he plays the match, constantly trying to draw a reaction from and bully defenders.
“He crashes into them from the off, scratches them, whispers who knows what in their ear; he never leaves it alone. He is so macho that he never backs down.
“He has to have the last word, the last shove, the last flick.
“It used to be that a defender would set the tone in a match with a first clattering challenge on the striker he was marking.
“With Costa, it’s the opposite. He smashes into the defender who is marking him as soon as possible, looking for a reaction or an almost inevitable retaliation a few minutes later.
“Then he goes straight down in a heap or immediately over to the referee, waving imaginary cards and trying to get people in trouble.
“He’s on the edge but he plays that game perfectly, testing defenders each week.
“He just wants that reaction, to get an opponent sent off.”