Arsene Wenger has warned Arsenal defender to be ready to be ready for a battle against Chelsea striker Diego Costa ahead of the clubs’ Premier League clash at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday as the Gunners prepare to break down a ‘psychological barrier’ by securing a first league win over the Blues in more than four years.
Although the Spaniard could miss the Sunday’s meeting between the two sides with a bruised shin that forced him off on Saturday against Everton, amid reports that he was sported training alone indoors on Wednesday, Wenger still insisted that his side should be prepared to deal with the challenge he presents.
“We have to be prepared for a battle because Costa gives you a fight. After that, it’s down to the referee. We have to focus on our performance. It’s another game where people look at us and see how we behave. It will be an intense game—as usual in the Premier League. Overall, I think because of the qualities of the players on the pitch and what is at stake for both teams, it will be a very intense battle, the Frenchman said.
Costa was at the heart of the brawl in their last meeting in September (earlier this season) that ended in a red card for Gabriel Paulista for retaliating against the Spanish forward after scuffles with Laurent Koscielny.
Wenger criticized referee Mike Dean for being “weak” and naïve” after the 2-0 loss at Stamford Bridge, insisting that he should have sent Costa off twice for hitting Koscielny in the face and the clash with Gabriel.
Gabriel’s red card was later rescinded, but the defender was given a one-match ban for failing to leave the pitch quickly enough, while Costa was slapped with a three-match suspension and both clubs were fined for not controlling their players.
“We have certainly improved our battling potential through big solidarity, through great togetherness,” Wenger added. “We have more experience in the team. And one of the advantages to having experienced players is they know that sometimes it’s just about battling and not only about playing well.”