LONDON: Diego Costa has a debt to settle with the Champions League, starting against Schalke on Wednesday.
Last May injured Costa limped out of Atletico Madrid’s final against Real Madrid in the first half. He had not recovered by the time of the World Cup and Chelsea were criticised for spending £32m on him.
All the criticism has vanished after the Spanish/Brazilian’s first hat-trick in English football sparked a 4-2 victory over Swansea. Costa is the Premier League top scorer after scoring seven goals in four games.
Manager Jose Mourinho said: “If the team play well then he has to score goals. Seven in four is maybe too much, not normal. We cannot expect that after eight matches he will have 14 goals.
“The team was built in a way that we were waiting for a certain type of striker. Everybody now knows Chelsea did the right thing in waiting for him and not going into the market in the summer of 2013 or January. We were waiting for the right one.”
Costa’s substitute Loic Remy marked his debut by scoring the league leaders’ fourth goal. Last season Chelsea scored five goals in two games against Schalke. Mourinho will expect more this time. Fans will also be curious to see whether he gives Petr Cech a first game of the season in goal.
Paul Lambert’s Aston Villa remain unbeaten after inflicting a second defeat of the season on Liverpool by 1-0 at Anfield. Ludgorets, who play Liverpool in Champions League tomorrow, should consider Villa’s strategy since Lambert’s men won at Anfield two seasons ago and were unlucky to be held 2-2 last term.
Villa have taken 10 points from their first four games though they were fortunate when Philippe Coutinho shot against a post eight minutes from the end.
Lambert said: “We showed no fear. It was a fantastic performance and result. Tactically, we were spot-on, the lads have grasped what we have been working on in training. Not that they are really lads any more. Our young players have grown into men.”
Liverpool, with Adam Lallana making his debut afer his summer move from Southampton but Raheem Sterling held back on the subs’ bench, made a disjointed start and conceded the decisive goal to Gabriel Agbonlahor after a series of defensive mistakes.
Mario Balotelli withstood some rugged treatment from Villa defenders before being substituted by Rickie Lambert who missed one of Liverpool’s few chances.
Brendan Rodgers, Liverpool’s manager, admitted: “We started too slowly and never created enough. We couldn’t quite find the quality with the final ball.”
Alan Pardew is on the brink of being sacked as manager of Newcastle after a 4-0 beating by Ronald Koeman’s Southampton. Pardew, in charge for four years, was jeered constantly and more loudly by Newcastle fans as the game went on. One fan unfurled a banner saying: ‘Pardew is a Muppet.’
Defeat by Hull at St James’ Park next Saturday, could be the end for Pardew with Newcastle yet to win after their opening four league games. They have conceded nine goals and scored only four.
Hull’s Steve Bruce and ex-Manchester United manager David Moyes have been linked with the job which Pardew took over in December 2010.
Harry Kane’s own-goal eight minutes from time saw Sunderland salvage a 2-2 draw at home to Tottenham. The London club have denied insistent reports that their Bahamas-based billionaire owner Joe Louis is ready to sell the club to possible American bidders.
Romelu Lukaku scored against his former club as Everton won their first game by 2-0 at West Bromwich.
Promoted Leicester scored their first win back up in the Premier League by 1-0 at Stoke for whom Robert Huth was again an unused substitute.
Crystal Palace had Argentinian goalkeeper Julian Speroni to thank for a goalless draw against Burnley after he saved a late Scott Arfield penalty.