Chelsea begin their defence of the League Cup against Walsall on Wednesday amid a backdrop of controversy regarding Diego Costa’s actions in their weekend victory over Arsenal.
Costa was charged with violent conduct by the Football Association on Monday after appearing to strike Laurent Koscielny in Saturday’s 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge, as Jose Mourinho’s side built on their Champions League victory against Maccabi Tel Aviv three days earlier.
Arsenal defender Gabriel was sent off for tangling with Costa in the aftermath of the Koscielny incident and the controversy and discussion surrounding the Spain striker seem to have detracted somewhat from Chelsea’s return to form.
Prior to Arsenal’s visit, Chelsea had lost back-to-back games in the Premier League but Cesc Fabregas says confidence is growing in the champions’ dressing room.
On his compatriot Costa, he told Chelsea’s official website: “He’s very competitive; it’s good, he’s hungry for success and to win all the time.
“You can see the fans love him as well, they get behind him all the time so it’s great for us.
“I’m happy for the victory, that’s the main thing. We were on a bad run and now we are playing better, confidence is higher, we don’t want to stop here.
“We went into a bad run, every team has one in a season and hopefully we’ve had ours. We’ve taken off and we hope this is just the beginning of what will be a big season for us.”
Mourinho will welcome captain John Terry, who has been on the bench for Chelsea’s last two games, back to face a Walsall side flying high in the third tier.
Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Peterborough United kept Dean Smith’s side in the top two, having beaten Championship outfits Nottingham Forest and Brighton and Hove Albion en route to the third round of the League Cup.
Romaine Sawyers – who has scored five goals this term – told Walsall’s official website: “We can show our excitement now. We’ve had league games since the draw was made, but now we can focus on Chelsea.
“We’re the underdogs but we’ll try to show the belief that we have in the camp. If we cause an upset, it would be a massive boost for everyone at the club.
“We’ve got to believe that it can happen.”