Football

He will not change

Costa insists he is 'no angel' and will continue to be aggressive

WEST HAM v CHELSEA

(Tonight, 10pm, Singtel TV Ch 102 & StarHub TV Ch 227)

Diego Costa says he is "no angel" but the Chelsea striker will not compromise his combative approach.

The 27-year-old Brazil-born Spain striker returned from a three-match retrospective suspension for violent conduct against Arsenal in last week's win over Aston Villa.

He has attracted criticism in some quarters for his on-field approach, but Blues boss Jose Mourinho has lauded his influence.

"On the pitch, don't try and put wings on me, as I am no angel," Costa told BBC Football Focus.

"I think that football has always had a passionate, aggressive side, with players giving their all. People have to get used to this.

"Some people seem to think football is like theatre, and that everyone has to play the good guy.

"But I think that you transform when you cross the white line, you're not the same person as off it.

"I give no quarter and I ask for none. Out there, I'm going to fight for my team and do the best I can.

"I'm not going to change that because of what people may think of it.

"Afterwards, when the match is over, I have my family and my friends. I have fun like a normal person."

Meanwhile, Jose Mourinho has vowed to focus on football after taking exception to media reporting of two incidents on a London street.

The 52-year-old Portuguese is frustrated that phone camera footage of two teenagers following him through west London - something Chelsea described as "overly intrusive" - was widely reported this week.

"You don't get from me good and funny headlines," Mourinho said at his media conference yesterday ahead of tonight's Premier League clash at West Ham.

"I'm going to treat your bosses the same way they treat me. No respect, no respect.

"And I'm not speaking about football. Football, I'm ready to accept any kind of criticism, even the stupid ones.

"Private life and stupid things that you bring to light, I don't like it. So we go to a different level of professional relationship."

Mourinho may not have many bosom buddies to call upon but there were words of encouragement from West Ham manager Slaven Bilic, whose team are riding high in fourth place ahead of their clash at Upton Park tonight.

Bilic predicted that Chelsea would finish no lower than fourth and insisted the Blues' struggles this season were not proof of a crisis.

"It doesn't have to be anything major," Bilic said. "Somehow you lose a couple of games - and from their point of view drawing is also like losing - and suddenly they lose that five per cent of self-confidence and people say, 'What is wrong with Chelsea?'.

"It doesn't have to be a big thing and I sure that it was nothing big or major. Because if it was big or major, he would be the first man - he is the best - to change it.

"Sometimes it's those invisible things that you can't detect quick. You have to work hard and hope it is going to change. It is definitely going to change for them. Hopefully it won't be on Saturday.

"I see them finishing in the top four but I don't think the majority of my day about Chelsea."

One man who will have no influence on the game is Victor Moses, who is on loan at West Ham from Chelsea and cannot therefore play against his parent club.

- Wire Services.

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