Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has made it clear to his side that they must be “aggressive” in dealing with Diego Costa but should not take any measures to aggravate the Chelsea striker.
Liverpool take on Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Friday night, where they will come up against the in-form Costa after his impressive start to the season.
“Being aggressive is important against Costa,” Klopp told reporters. “If you are in a friendly game mood then you have no chance. He is a real warrior on the pitch. He uses his body all the time — that is his quality. World class. He was nearly unstoppable against Swansea. He is strong, no doubt.”
Costa is a player who attracts controversy for his aggression on the pitch and was handed a three-match suspension for stamping on Liverpool’s Emre Can when the two sides met in a League Cup semifinal back in 2015.
However, Klopp is adamant that the Reds will not be looking to provoke Costa on Friday.
“It is not part of our preparation,” Klopp said. “I never said in my life to a team: ‘He’s always close to a red card, do whatever you can so that he gets it.’
“Antonio [Conte] has already created a good relationship with him so he is completely different. He is in good shape.
“He is aggressive yes, but I didn’t see until now challenges where you could say it should have been a red card. I thought against Swansea it was more a problem for the two defenders.
“There will be hard challenges, but it is not about having a one-on-one fight the whole 90 minutes and then saying: ‘I took him out of the game.’
“Taking Diego out of the game makes sense but even then our players can create moments so there are a lot more things to do than only think about Diego Costa.”