Costa, you’re such a letdown
Anyone else get stitched up by Diego Costa? Thought so.
Suddenly what looked an unbeatable team was, thanks to the prospect of an unseemly amount of yen, without a skipper and its potent figurehead.
If it’s any consolation, Antonio Conte was even more p*ssed off than you. We’ve all watched Conte unravel like a deranged Tasmanian devil when his team win — so one can only imagine what he’s like when a player crosses him.
Clubs and managers can’t be too righteous about the likes of Costa and Dimitri Payet having their heads turned by the prospect of big paydays.
Equally, clubs are only too happy to move contracted players on against their will when they need to free up some cash for an overpriced Brazilian.
Indeed, listening to Slaven Bilic condemn Payet’s decision to effectively go on strike stirred memories of how the Croatian himself forced through a lucrative move to Everton after only one season at Upton Park. Pot, kettle and all that.
Needless to say, I’m following Conte’s lead and giving Costa the cold shoulder this week.
11am kick offs unless stated
Liverpool v Swansea City
Best attack versus worst defence. On paper this appears a straightforward win for Liverpool, who need to get back to their free-flowing ways after a stop-start few weeks. Philippe Coutinho is back, which is not what Swansea’s leaky backline will want to hear.
Bournemouth v Watford
Watford’s increasingly shot-shy forward line should be a relief for Bournemouth who have shipped goals for fun recently. This fixture has a history of draws but a home win looks a better bet this time.
Crystal Palace v Everton
Is the Big Sam revival about to happen? There’s not too many signs of it so far, although Christian Benteke’s two goals in the FA Cup should give them a lift.
Everton, meanwhile, are fresh from dismantling Man City and have unearthed a gem in Tom Davies. Could this be the dawn of a successful Ronald Koeman era?
Middlesbrough v West Ham
Aitor Karanka’s side have taken more than half of their points at home and have lost only two of their past six at the Riverside.
West Ham recorded a morale-boosting win over Palace last time out but this could be a stodgy affair.
Stoke v Manchester United
Stoke have two wins on the bounce and are up to ninth. Peter Crouch’s renaissance leaves him one short of 100 Premier League goals — some achievement for a player written off as a “freak” as a youngster.
United are unbeaten in their past 12 and will count themselves unlucky not to have beaten Liverpool last weekend.
WBA v Sunderland
Sunderland’s season is starting to look as forlorn as David Moyes’s 1,000-yard stare. West Brom to brush them aside.
Manchester City v Tottenham
Pep Guardiola celebrated his birthday this week with reports suggesting the party promised much but tailed off as the night went on. Claudio Bravo couldn’t handle the shots either. Allegedly. Spurs will be without Jan Vertonghen, who is set to miss two months with injury, but with their superior cohesiveness going forward, a crucial away win is a real possibility.
Southampton v Leicester City
Saints have stumbled to four straight defeats but come up against the out-of-form champions and will fancy their chances of halting their bad run. Leicester have failed to with their past 12 away matches. A shadow of last season’s miracle workers.
Arsenal v Burnley
While Burnley’s home form is superb, they have only one point on their travels. Olivier Giroud, after five goals in five league matches, is an injury doubt but Arsenal should have enough for three points.
Chelsea v Hull City
Costa will have to do some serious apologising to get straight back in the team. One suspects he’s not that type. Early reports suggest Hull’s new manager is impressing but, while this will be competitive, it is hard to go with anything other than a home win.