Chelsea’s Diego Costa will find out whether he will punished for an alleged stamp on Liverpool’s Emre Can by the FA disciplinary commission on Friday.
It is widely expected that he will face a three-match ban for his Capital One Cup indiscretion, with the visit of Manchester City this weekend among those fixtures.
Hardly an ideal time for Jose Mourinho’s side to lose the Premier League’s leading goal-scorer then?
Well no, but although it may seem perverse to say so, the Blues (even money to strike a potentially decisive blow in the title race with victory) may be better off without their roughhousing frontman.
Chelsea have lost just once in the ten games the ‘Spazilian’ hasn’t started this term, but that’s almost besides the point.
The reverse fixture at the Etihad last September saw the most innocuous showing of Costa’s otherwise formidable early days in the club.
He was well marshalled by Vincent Kompany and debutant Eliaquim Mangala, managing a single shot on target and winning one aerial duel while being dispossessed nine times.
In many ways employing the former Atletico Madrid man as a line leader played to the strengths of the Citizens’ stout centre-halves, who seemed to relish the physical battle.
However, one of the reigning champions’ most obvious and exploitable weaknesses this season has been their lack of pace in the centre of defence.
Exhibit A in the case for this particular was Mame Biram Diouf’s winner for Stoke City in Manchester, while Seydou Doumbia tore them apart when CSKA Moscow came to town.
While Costa is a formidable opponent he lacks the pace of Loic Remy, which could be used to exploit the trundling core of the City rearguard with direct balls in behind them on the counter attack.
Make no mistakes there will be ample opportunity for that – Manuel Pellegrini’s side have no option but to take the game to Chelsea if they are to erode their hosts’ lead atop the Premier League.
Remy is currently 2/1 to bag at any time at Stamford Bridge, while it’s 4/1 that he finds the net in a Blues victory.