Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has insisted Chelsea striker Diego Costa be punished after his behaviour against the Gunners on Saturday.
The Spain international was seen to flash an arm at Laurent Koscielny and appeared to scratch the neck of Gabriel Paulista during the Blues' 2-0 win, per Jonny Singer of the Daily Mail.
Paulista eventually reacted with a kick out at Costa and was subsequently sent off by the referee on the day, Mike Dean. Needless to say, Wenger was not happy and has called on the Football Association to act.
“The referee let it go and I don't know why,” said the Frenchman, per David Woods of the Daily Star. “I would like them to take action. I would like them, especially Dean, to look at the whole action and see if he stands by his decisions.”
According to John Cross of the Daily Mirror, it will be decided on Monday whether the former Atletico Madrid man will be punished for his conduct, but after being booked during the game, Costa could escape unscathed.
As noted by Cross, the striker’s actions and the subsequent red card which followed were critical in helping Chelsea secure a crucial win:
Indeed, Wenger admitted his defender should have carried himself better despite provocation.
“I don’t understand Gabriel because he usually looks a calm boy,” he said, per Cross’ piece. “You have to be above that. That’s part of the game. To be professional, to me, is to deal with that.”
Defenders should know exactly what they’re getting with Costa. The forward is constantly at the opposition players, does cross the line on occasion and looks to provoke reactions like Gabriel’s. Ultimately, aside from sticking the ball in the back of the net, like him or loath him, it’s a way of being decisive in matches.
Bleacher Report’s Adam Digby thinks the majority of football fans would love to have the forward leading the line for their respective team:
Of course, there is a line that shouldn’t be crossed. Scratching an opponent is certainly something that warrants punishment, either during the game or retrospectively.
Costa is a player who will be a marked man for referees in the wake of the massive coverage that the incidents have had in the aftermath of the match.
But as noted by Singer of the Daily Mail, Costa isn’t the only one who acted poorly on the day, whether on the pitch or off it:
However, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho had high praise for his centre-forward, per Woods’ piece: "It's difficult to play against people with this aggression, people that want to score, lose the ball, want to press, want to defend, compete, discuss, go to every ball. But it's because of these players that football is what football is, because they create passion.”
Wenger can protest about Costa as much as he likes and the Spanish international may eventually be banned as a result. But it’ll do nothing to change another poor result against a rival for the Premier League title.
With that in mind, provoked or otherwise, Gabriel’s reaction proved to be hugely costly and another sign of the Gunners' mental frailties.
Costa is a player who will always divide opinion. His antics are not to everyone’s taste, neither is his playing style. But you suspect after bullying the Arsenal back-four, prompting a reaction from an opponent and playing a key role in victory, Mourinho will be well pleased with his player.
After all, winning games, regardless of how, has long been Chelsea’s clear modus operandi; the Gunners could do with a dash of that type of mindset themselves.