Arsene Wenger has spoken of his frustration at not following through with his initial interest and bringing Diego Costa to Arsenal when he left Atletico Madrid for Chelsea in 2014.
The Spain striker made the £32million switch to Stamford Bridge just over two years ago and in only three Premier League games against Arsenal, Costa has already scored two goals. Wenger also felt that the outcome of his team’s two defeats last season were ultimately decided by how Gabriel and Per Mertesacker were sent off after first-half clashes with the 27-year-old.
The London clubs renew their rivalry on Saturday with Arsenal looking for a first Premier League win over the Blues since October 2011 and Wenger said of the striker: “He looks since the start of the season to have cleaned up his act, that he behaves more focused on the game and that makes him more dangerous.”
Wenger, who rejected the notion that Costa risked losing an edge from his game, added: “I don’t think so. You want full commitment. Commitment is different from this kind of overreactions. He is a fighter and you respect that. The rest is down to the referees to get the game and the rules respected. I never thought he would leave Atlético Madrid at the time – I was surprised.”
Wenger on how to handle Costa
Asked how his defence can face up against Costa, Wenger replied: “By being completely cold-blooded and just focus on the game and not respond. Just try to negate his qualities and his game.
“You need to be committed but by respecting the rules of the game and responding. Last year we were a bit unlucky at Chelsea to be down to 10 men because we got a red card and it was rescinded after.
“In the other game, we deserved the red card because we were caught on a quality run by him.”
Wenger on Arsenal’s poor discipline
Wenger admits he has also discussed discipline with his players following their recent run of cards against Chelsea.
“We talk about that because in the last two games, we’ve played against Chelsea with 10 men” he said.
“Of course for the result tomorrow it will be important the way we play football, but as well the way we behave, because discipline and results are strongly linked and the results we’ve had in the last two games are that we couldn’t play 11 against 11.”