Knowing Arsene Wenger and the faith that he clearly has in the Arsenal centre back Per Mertesacker, along with the very well reasoned idea that sticking with the same back four and keeper as much as possible helps the defensive solidity of your team, the chances are that our Brazilian centre back Gabriel is not going to get a chance to get his own back on the Chelsea and Spain striker Diego Costa tomorrow.
I am sure that Gabriel would love to get a few digs in, verbal if nothing more, on the player who sucked him into a red card at Stamford Bridge early in the season but I reckon that all of his Arsenal team mates will be hoping to do our defender a favour on that front.
The Arsenal boss made sure to bring up that incident, as reported by ESPN, which the football world agreed should have seen Costa sent off, and to send a gentle reminder to the football authorities just what Costa is likely to be doing at the Emirates Stadium tomorrow, if he plays that is.
Wenger said, “We have to focus on our own performance and forget a little bit about Diego Costa. But we have to be prepared for a battle because Costa gives you a fight. After that, it’s down to the referee.
“We are convinced that our points and our record are certainly linked to our discipline. On the day (at Stamford Bridge) we suffered because I think we were a bit unlucky with the decision of the referee.
“But overall on the longer distance I believe we have a very strong record on discipline in the Premier League and we want to maintain it.”
Chelsea boss Guus Hiddink is also clearly aware that Costa is a ticking time bomb and has tried to talk up his player’s good points while gently reminding him not to do anything stupid against Arsenal, explained in a report by The Independent.
Hiddink said, “I’d prefer to have players who sometimes you have to control or tell them ‘a little bit less’ than have to push them a bit. He has his character. Sometimes you are misjudged by images. But, off the pitch, they seem the most vulnerable [figures]. He shows a lot of joy to everyone.
“I observe the players when they are in the canteen, dealing with people who prepare the pitches, not snobby or arrogant… that’s good to see. They’re different characters off the pitch. On the pitch they have that desperate will to win, almost at any cost. That’s a slight change in character and behaviour.”
That so-called will to win is bound to be on the verge of bubbling over if Costa recovers from his bruised shin and the Arsenal players will be well aware of it and will surely be hoping to encourage Costa to step over the line. The referee for the match is Mark Clattenburg and he is no fan of Chelsea after Jon Obi Mikel tried to brand him a racist a few years back so I imagine that it will be the Arsenal players that are hoping to make this a grudge match.
Will Costa keep his cool?