EPL 2016-17: Antonio Conte reveals he ignored Diego Costa's request to be substituted
Conte defends his decision to keep Costa on the pitch even though he was one booking away from missing the match against United next week.
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte revealed that he ignored Diego Costa’s plea to get himself substituted during their 3-0 win against Leicester City on Saturday. With the Blues already up by two goals thanks to strikes by Costa himself and Eden Hazard, the volatile striker made frantic gestures at the 71st minute towards the manager to substitute him but to no avail, as Conte kept the Spanish striker on the pitch till the end of the game.
Costa was only one booking away from missing the match against Manchester United next weekend and fully expressed his desire to play in Jose Mourinho’s return to Stamford Bridge by avoiding a potential suspension or injury, but the Italian manager was having none of it.
After the game, Conte substantiated his decision to risk Costa until the end of the match by saying: “I decided. Always I take the responsibility in every situation, in positive or negative situations. It’s always my decision whether or not a player is substituted. If I can, I keep Costa until the end of the game.
“He is an important player for us. He has a good personality and transfers his passion, and we need that passion in every moment of the game. I know I risked it because, if Costa took another yellow card, he would miss the next game. But, I repeat, Costa’s passion is important for the team. He must transfer this in every game and in every single minute of the game.”
Costa was at his deadly best in the Premier League match against Leicester on Saturday. He scored Chelsea’s first goal in the seventh minute as he thumped a Nemanja Matic flick from a corner to the back of the net after having made a run unmarked into the six-yard box.
He was highly influential for the rest of the match as well, constantly going past defenders and creating chances for his team. He struck a fine partnership with Eden Hazard who played a more central role in Conte’s 3-4-3 system yesterday.
Hazard scored Chelsea’s second and both their celebrations included a tribute to Willian’s mother who recently passed away. Chelsea added a third to the scoreline via a sublime Nathaniel Chalobah backheel through which Victor Moses drove home, completing the best performance by Chelsea this season.
Diego Costa currently leads the chart for top scorers in the Premier League after registering his seventh goal in eight matches and is the man to lead the line for Chelsea next weekend when the Blues take on Manchester United at Stamford Bridge.