Antonio Conte described Diego Costa’s discipline as “incredible” after the Spain international produced another controlled match-winning display against West Brom to fire Chelsea back to the top of the Premier League.
Costa created and scored the only goal of the game at Stamford Bridge to take his tally to 12 goals in 15 matches as the Blues extended their winning streak to nine league games, despite being frustrated for long spells by a disciplined and organised West Brom side.
After the match, Conte praised Costa — who has not been booked in Chelsea’s last nine matches after picking up four yellow cards in his first six Premier League appearances this season — for showing greater self-control on the pitch in recent weeks.
“It’s incredible,” Conte said of Costa’s disciplinary record. “If you think that, after the Arsenal defeat, Diego had four yellow cards and was on the edge, he continued to stay on the edge. It’s incredible.”
One more yellow card before Dec. 31 would see Costa incur an automatic one-match suspension from the Football Association.
Asked if he thought Costa could make it to the start of 2017 without another booking, Conte laughed and crossed his fingers before adding: “January is arriving, no? I think he can arrive in January without a yellow card — I hope — but it’s important to continue.
“Diego is, for sure, a great striker. He can continue to improve his football, but I’m satisfied with the work we’re doing with him and the team. I’m happy for him, I’m happy for the team, for Chelsea and the fans, because he’s showing great passion.
“Diego likes to play football and he’s showing great passion in every game that we play, great commitment, he’s good without or with the ball to help the team. It’s fantastic. It’s important to continue this way, but I’m very happy for him.”
N’Golo Kante picked up his fourth Premier League booking of the season in Sunday’s win over West Brom, meaning that he, Nemanja Matic and David Luiz are also at risk of being sidelined for a match if they get another yellow card before Dec. 31.
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