When news broke that Premier League Golden Boot leader Diego Costa got into an argument with Chelsea manager Antonio Conte over a transfer offer from the Chinese Super League, every neutral and non-Chelsea fan took notice. If there was any way to stop the incredible run of Chelsea and have an exciting title chase, this could do that.
Well, despite Costa not making the trip to Leicester as punishment (Chelsea insists it’s for a back injury), Chelsea didn’t really need him. Chelsea dominated on all levels and soundly defeated the defending champs 3-0 at the King Power Stadium.
With the win, Chelsea goes out to a provisional seven point lead that could be cut to four if Liverpool defeat Manchester United.
Marcos Alonso, who scored twice and was really itching for a hat trick, was a midfielder in Conte’s 3-4-3 formation. But Alonso could have been taking over for Costa how he was shooting the ball.
And to make matters worse for Leicester, Pedro headed in Chelsea’s third goal of the day, sealing the win and proving to Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri that his three man backline experiment didn’t work.
Despite Chelsea dominating without Diego Costa, this doesn’t really give us a glimpse in terms of whether or not this team can survive without him. Leicester City haven’t rejuvenated their Premier League form from last season and didn’t have Algerians Riyad Mahrez and Islam Slimani due to Africa Cup of Nations duty. And for a team who really didn’t have much depth even in their title winning season, Leicester is struggling.
Also, let’s entertain the thought that Diego Costa has played his final game in a Chelsea shirt and he goes to China (he isn’t). It’s not like Chelsea is going to stick some youth player up at striker and they move on from there. Today, Eden Hazard moved up in a temporary solution and even with that, Chelsea still has one of the most talented Starting XI’s in the Premier League. Chelsea will surely have the money to spend on just about anyone to come in, be their goal scoring striker and be “business as usual.”
So despite their star striker being benched for an argument, a back injury or both, it sure didn’t affect Chelsea today. The team showed their resolve and put in a great performance under pressure. The hopes of the neutrals and fans of the second to sixth place teams that this would cause a more exciting title chase were a bit premature. Chelsea could very well give up points down the road and makes this a more interesting title race. But it’ll take more than an argument between player and manager for that to happen.