Diego Costa must be outsmarted if West Ham are to get the better of Chelsea in the EFL Cup, Angelo Ogbonna says.
Slaven Bilic’s team host Chelsea on Wednesday at the last-16 stage of the competition having already met in a fiery contest in August to kick off the 2016-17 season.
Chelsea won that match 2-1 at Stamford Bridge to give Antonio Conte a winning start to his reign, with Costa netting a dramatic late goal after avoiding a second yellow card for a rash challenge on West Ham goalkeeper Adrian.
Ogbonna thinks West Ham will be wiser to Costa’s style of play this time around and knows stopping him will be key to their chances of success at London Stadium.
“We know Costa,” defender Ogbonna, who played under Conte at Juventus, told the Mirror.
“Every time we play him we have to be careful. We have played him already. Everybody knows Costa. He has a high behaviour. On the pitch he tries to make something to change the game.
“Sometimes if we do something as defenders, it’s bigger than it is if a striker does it. A striker can do whatever he wants.
“A defender has to be careful, maybe clever. This is the game. I think whoever is more clever can win!”
Ogbonna is also aware Chelsea have a number of other threats but thinks his own team are no different, with Dimitri Payet one of multiple attacking stars.
He added: “Costa is an international player, a good player. They have [Eden] Hazard as well, we shouldn’t talk just about Costa. They also have Willian. [N’Golo] Kante as well.
“Maybe they are going to change it a bit because they are playing in the cup and they have a lot of games. But we have to prepare like it’s the last game of the season.
“We have good players too. The expectation is high. Everyone knows Dimi can change the match sometimes, but not just Dimi. [Winston] Reidy changed the match [against Sunderland]. Maybe Pedro Obiang. Maybe Manuel Lanzini. We are expecting Simone Zaza too. It is his turn.
“I have a really good relationship with Conte, but I have to put it to one side.”