Football

Diego delivers like Drogba

Cahill says Costa can become a club legend like the inspirational Ivory Coast star

EPL
SUNDERLAND CHELSEA

Diego Costa is beginning to have the same impact at Chelsea as Didier Drogba once did, defender Gary Cahill believes.

Costa has come to symbolise the club's transformation under Antonio Conte and ensured the Blues extended their winning streak to nine Premier League games with the winning goal against West Brom last Sunday.

Costa's goal - his 12th in 15 league appearances this season - moved Conte's side back three points clear at the top of the table ahead of tomorrow morning's (Singapore time) match against bottom club Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.

And the manner in which the Brazil-born Spain striker created and scored an excellent individual goal in the later stages of the game against West Brom brought back memories of the inspirational Drogba.

The former Ivory Coast international spent nine years at Stamford Bridge, delivering a succession of trophies to the club - including famously scoring the decisive penalty that secured them the Champions League title in 2012.

COMPARISON

Cahill believes there is a comparison to be made between Costa - who is now in his third season at the club - and the Ivorian.

"Didier was a huge figure goal-scoring wise and also with his personality on and off the pitch," said Cahill.

"You need strikers like that and Diego has fitted in nicely.

"Since he's been at the club, he's scored goals but, this season, he's on fire.

"Are the fans starting to love him like they loved Didier?

"Yes, of course, because he is banging goals in every week. He is winning us matches.

"At this moment, he is right up there among the best in the world. The statistics don't lie."

Costa's talents have been apparent since he arrived at the club, but the forward has also developed a reputation for a fiery temperament.

However, he has been noticeably more restrained during the club's recent revival, going 10 matches without a caution.

"He is not getting as frustrated as he used to. He is channelling (his energy) in the right direction now and is being patient," said Cahill.

"I haven't had to have a word with him about it, I think that's something he has added to his game this season."

Conte has no fresh injuries to contend with but may opt to start with Willian ahead of Pedro Rodriguez.

Sunderland manager David Moyes has conceded his side need to embark on another run of good form after the 3-0 defeat by Swansea saw them return to the foot of the Premier League table.

The Black Cats had won three of their four previous games but, with the bottom six clubs separated by only four points, a similar sequence of victories will boost their bid to pull off a fifth consecutive successful relegation battle.

They are certainly in a better place form-wise than when they failed to win any of their first 10 games.

"As a club, we've been in this situation many times before so it's not something that's new to us," said Moyes.

"Those recent three wins in four put us back in with a fighting chance, when a few weeks ago we weren't in with one.

"We probably need to go on a similar run like that another two or three times this season." - AFP

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