Diego Costa continued his remarkable revival since Guus Hiddink took over as Chelsea manager, netting his 10th Premier League goal of the season to help Chelsea thrash Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge.
Costa moved up in the top scorers charts on a day in which Everton's Romelu Lukaku couldn't close the gap on Leicester City hotshot Jamie Vardy. Lukaku drew a blank during a disappointing home defeat for the Toffees against West Bromwich Albion.
Here are the full results from Saturday's games:
|Everton||0-1||West Bromwich Albion|
|Norwich City||2-2||West Ham United|
Here's what those results mean for the standings:
|7||West Ham United||26||10||10||6||9||40|
|14||West Bromwich Albion||26||8||8||10||-10||32|
These are the division's top scores:
|1||Jamie Vardy||Leicester City||18|
|3||Harry Kane||Tottenham Hotspur||15|
|4||Riyad Mahrez||Leicester City||14|
|6||Sergio Aguero||Manchester City||14|
|10||Georginio Wijanldum||Newcastle United||9|
Diego Costa, 10 Goals
Costa netted the first of three rapid-fire goals for Chelsea, all scored within the first 20 minutes. He made a smart run to connect with Willian's excellent through pass before slotting home confidently.
Costa's improved confidence under Hiddink has led directly to more prolific form in front of goal. Sky Sports Statto detailed exactly how much more effective the ex-Atletico Madrid star has been since Hiddink succeeded Jose Mourinho:
Diego Costa has scored 7 goals in 8 PL apps under Guus Hiddink – 3 goals in 13 PL apps under Jose Mourinho this season— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) February 13, 2016
There's certainly been a greater spring in Costa's step since Hiddink arrived. He's making quicker, more decisive runs between the lines. The 27-year-old has rediscovered his ruthless streak as a finisher whenever he gets a chance.
Costa is playing so well he has people, including Simon Johnson of the London Evening Standard, thinking about what might have been this season:
Imagine if Costa played at his best for a whole season? Combine first half of last season and second half of this and you have some gl tally— Simon Johnson (@sjstandardsport) February 13, 2016
Chelsea's Premier League campaign will bear no fruit, but with a striker in this sort of form, the Blues have to be considered a genuine threat in both the UEFA Champions League and FA Cup.
Romelu Lukaku, 16 Goals
Lukaku was one of many misfiring Toffees players against West Brom. The beefy Belgian striker and his teammates aimed 34 shots at the Baggies goal, but it was telling only six were on target, per Sky Sports.
What should really frustrate Lukaku is that he received plenty of support in forward areas, in sharp contrast to Albion's match-winner, Salomon Rondon, according to Richard Jolly of the Guardian:
The range of those who came close is an indication of the commitment to attack. Funes Mori and Phil Jagielka in effect constituted a back two as everyone else swarmed forward. Their notional lone striker, Romelu Lukaku, was surrounded by colleagues. His Albion counterpart, Rondón, came off with an acute case of loneliness.
Ultimately, Lukaku cut a frustrated figure, knowing he missed the chance to usurp Vardy at the top of the scoring charts. Playing for a team as inconsistent as manager Roberto Martinez's Everton is likely to eventually undermine Lukaku's attempts to finish the season as the division's highest scorer.
As for Costa, he won't win that accolade, but he can win over the Chelsea supporters with his increasingly impressive improvement during the crunch period of the season.