Terry Venables: Diego Costa’s even better than Didier Drogba – but has Jose Mourinho a serious injury concern?

I certainly hope Jose’s comments about Diego Costa is just another piece of mischief making.

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It’s always risky to over-analyse everything Jose Mourinho says. The Chelsea manager has a habit of hurling a few well-placed grenades simply to wind people up, or give someone a kick up the backside.

With Chelsea facing their sternest test so far away at Manchester City this afternoon, I certainly hope Jose’s comments about Diego Costa is just another piece of mischief making.

To say his £32m star is incapable of playing two games in one week disturbs me, especially when it concerns such a key player. In my mind THE key player.

Costa has been excellent since arriving at Chelsea and in so many ways reminds me of another legendary Blues striker – now back at the Bridge – Didier Drogba.

Only I believe Costa is even better, with more technical ability. I just worry about his injuries.


Drogba has been an outstanding servant for Chelsea over the years. Powerful, intimidating – especially when up against Arsenal – he left opponents looking over their shoulders, worried about him. One mistake and Drogba would pounce – which is how he scored so many goals.

Costa is the same. He has everything but he’s more skilful than Drogba, he’s a greater technical player, capable of bringing his team-mates into the game. And he’s not just an old-fashioned English No 9, either. He’s better than that. He has got the whole package and he is a fantastic signing.

You can see all the time that Costa knows what he is doing, he is tough, he is always contributing and people will be intimidated by him. Try comparing him to Manchester City’s Edin Dzeko this afternoon and I’m confident you’ll spot the differences. Dzeko is a good, consistent player but Costa is that bit more troublesome. Dzeko plays like a gentleman. That’s why Jose’s comments disturbed me. We all know that Mourinho likes to play with our heads: he will say whatever he needs to help his team win. Fingers crossed, he’s just trying to encourage Drogba, who looked like the years were catching up on him against Schalke on Wednesday. I hope that’s the case and there’s not an underlining injury issue that could deprive Chelsea of a player capable of leading them to trophies.

Chelsea’s other big summer signing, Cesc Fabregas, has also been an inspired bit of transfer business. His passing is brilliant, he’s a consistent maker of goals – and scorer too (against Schalke). Mourinho is able to provide a lot of freedom for Fabregas to move around in, so long as  Ramires and Nemanja Matic sit tight.

Fabregas has been an inspired signing

That will be important this afternoon where the game will be won and lost in the middle of midfield. Both teams are strong there, but Chelsea have the edge. There is little to choose between Fabregas and City’s livewire David Silva. But when Fabregas gets going, he will score more goals. Any other player would have been overshadowed at Barcelona, where Fabregas was playing alongside two of the world’s best midfielders in Xavi and Andres Iniesta. But Fabregas could play football as well as them, and he could score more. Xavi and Iniesta rarely got on the scoresheet, they were more about control.

Another factor towards a Chelsea victory is the current shape and form of Yaya Toure. On the peak of his game, Yaya is a match-winner, one of the world’s best enforcers, powerful and dominating. But it was a far-less convincing Yaya we saw against Bayern Munich on Wednesday, off the pace, sluggish and ineffectual just when he was most needed. Yaya is heavy with a big frame, and during the off-season can put weight on, like Wayne Rooney. So he does not have the same sharpness about him until a bit further into the season.