Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has given his side instructions on how to handle the “world-class” threat of Diego Costa on Friday – but says he would never ask his players to get an opponent sent off.
Blues boss Antonio Conte has suggested opposition players are out to get Costa in trouble this season, while the player himself has said similar, after the Spaniard’s return to form under his new manager.
Costa has bagged four goals in four Premier League games already this season, while collecting two more for Spain in their 8-0 World Cup qualifying victory over Liechtenstein.
“It is not part of my preparation [to provoke Costa]. I never said in my life to a team: ‘He’s always close to a red card, so do whatever you can so he gets it.’ Antonio has already created a good relationship with him, so he is completely different,” said Klopp.
“He is in good shape, he is aggressive but I didn’t see until now any challenges where you could say it should have been a red card. I thought against Swansea it was more a problem for the two defenders.
“Being aggressive is important against him. There will be hard challenges but it is not about having a one-on-one fight for the whole 90 minutes and then saying: ‘I took him out of the game.’
“Taking Diego out of the game makes sense but even then other players can create moments, so there are a lot more things to do.”
Our weekly Red Letter column has described the challenge facing Liverpool one of the biggest of Klopp’s reign, and the German has warned his side they must watch out for “warrior” Costa.
“World-class,” said Klopp when asked to describe Costa. “If other supporters love you, it’s not a good sign. He is a real warrior on the pitch. He uses his body all the time – that is his quality – and he was nearly unstoppable against Swansea. He could have been the man of the match.”