Former Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood launched a scathing attack on Chelsea striker Diego Costa, claiming he should have been sent off for diving during the meeting between the two sides on Sunday.
Costa played a crucial role in the Blues’ 1-0 victory, as he went down after a Per Mertesacker tackle—resulting in a red card for the Arsenal man—and then scored the winning goal for his side.
But Hill-Wood feels as though the Spain international conned the referee and should be punished for what he called "serial" cheating, per David Woods of the Daily Star:
He is a serial cheat and he gets away with it. I think he deliberately ran in front of Mertesacker, who hardly touched him. Yet Costa rolls around as if his legs have been cut off. Once the red card’s been shown, he’s suddenly perfectly all right again.
That’s because there’s absolutely nothing wrong with him. There certainly wasn’t soon after when he scored that goal. Personally I think the referee should have sent him off for diving. It’s very annoying because to me it is blatant.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger didn’t go in as strongly on Costa post-match, but he was unhappy with the conduct of the Blues forward, per Bleacher Report UK:
Bleacher Report UK @br_uk
Arsene Wenger: ‘(Diego) Costa got Mertesacker sent off. I do not accuse him of anything—it’s just what happened.’ https://t.co/ncYrPb0tA02016-1-24 18:36:59
Needless to say, the Chelsea forward isn’t the most popular figure among Arsenal fans. Not only does he always seem to perform to his best against the Gunners, but he was also involved in another flashpoint between the two sides earlier in the campaign, which culminated in the dismissal of Gabriel Paulista and another Blues win.
Although the Chelsea man wasn’t at his best during that stint of the season, he’s revitalised under new Blues boss Guus Hiddink, as we can see here, courtesy of the Champions League's Twitter account:
Champions League @ChampionsLeague
Diego Costa has now scored six goals in six games under interim Chelsea coach Guus Hiddink. #UCL https://t.co/8hBxQbLskk2016-1-24 20:44:52
Hill-Wood’s frustrations are understandable, though, as the result was a disappointing one for the Gunners. Not only was this a brilliant chance for Arsenal to put one over on their struggling rivals, but they also could have moved back to the summit of the Premier League. As it stands, they trail leaders Leicester City by three points.
Getting the better of their fellow Londoners has proved to be problematic for the Gunners in recent seasons. And in many respects, this game was indicative of the problems Arsenal have had in these matches, with a lack of focus, clarity in crucial moments and defensive discipline costing them.
As Matt Dickinson of the Times noted in the aftermath, the fact that Costa and former Arsenal man Cesc Fabregas were both crucial didn't help quell tempers, either:
Matt Dickinson @DickinsonTimes
A home defeat to Chelsea, Costa winner and Fabregas MotM. Apart from that, Arsenal fans.....2016-1-24 17:52:38
Arsenal need to look at themselves in these types of situations, though. In a huge game, not only did they allow Chelsea to carve open their defence with ease, but Mertesacker also made a rash decision at a key point. Granted, the contact may have been minimal on Costa, yet the German gave him a chance to give his side a crucial advantage in the contest.
The forward has a villainous reputation, but once again, he was decisive in a big game against Arsenal. And although the Gunners fans despise him, if this version of Costa—the rumbustious, nasty, savvy and goalscoring version—were at the point of their attack, they’d be clear in the race for the Premier League title.