Diego Costa’s rough-and-ready approach to the Premier League may not be to everyone’s taste but Chelsea legend Kerry Dixon sees little wrong with the striker’s style of play.
Costa has scored five goals in five appearances for the Blues in the top-flight this season but his confrontational behaviour on the pitch continues to attract negative attention.
Dixon thinks otherwise though and he should know – as a player he scored 147 goals for Chelsea making him the club’s third highest goal scorer of all time.
“I think the way Costa plays is great,” he told loaded in an exclusive interview.
“He plays close to the mark and gives as good as he gets. In a game that has become less physical because of the television cameras and people being able to see from all angles, he’s played near the mark but stands his ground.”
And if Dixon has one message for Costa so far this term, it’s a simple one: never change.
“Costa has built a career playing that way and, provided he gets the service, he will score goals playing that way.”
Dixon has been relatively impressed with the start made by Chelsea this term, after last season’s difficulties but admitted there is “room for improvement.”
“The Liverpool defeat was a tough one because that was a real test and no disrespect to Swansea but that was the sort of game you would be expected to win if you are going to challenge for the league.”
Ultimately, the Blues icon reckons Chelsea fans need to be patient with new manager Antonio Conte and perhaps even set their sights a little lower this term.
“After last season, Champions League football would be a good target – whether that is acceptable will depend on what the powers that be think though,” he explained.
“You have to give Conte time to build his own team and get them playing the way he wants them to. Having said that, he’s made a few signings and there is room for improvement.”
Dixon called on some of the Blues’ established stars step up and deliver consistent performances for the club.
“We need the top players playing to their full potential. Chelsea need the Eden Hazard of two seasons ago.”
The Blues favourite also came out in defence of the signing of David Luiz.
“Luiz is an excellent footballer who has played at the highest level. He makes the occasional mistake but that is true of almost all footballers.
“There’s no such thing as the perfect footballer – the problem is when you are a defender and you make a mistake, everyone sees it.”
For Dixon, the key will be partnering Luiz with a defender that compliments his talents and ensuring the midfield is also designed to accommodate the Brazilian’s penchant for breaking forward.
“You need defenders to compliment each other. look at Chelsea’s defences in the past – John Terry and Carvalho for example – pairings that were good and solid.
“That has to be crucial when picking any central defensive partnership. It’s the same with strikers – develop a partnership and it helps the club.”
“It’s a case of accommodating him in the team and getting the balance right in terms of what is in front of the back four. But that’s Conte’s job.”
Up Front: My Autobiography by Kerry Dixon and Harry Harris is available to purchase now.
Loaded staff writer Jack Beresford has produced content for Lad Bible, Axonn Media and a variety of online sports and news media outlets.