Ivanovic-Costa: A New Partnership is Building in Chelsea
After two wins in two games, title favourites Chelsea found themselves top of the Premier League and Diego Costa continues to justify why Jose Mourinho paid £32 million for his services.
The fans can’t complain and nor can the owner. Chelsea kicked off their title campaign with a commanding 3-1 victory at Burnley in which Costa, Andre Schurrle and Branislav Ivanovic scored and this week that continued with a 2-0 win over Leicester City.
Facing another promoted team, Mourinho opted for the same line-up that beat Burnley. It didn’t go according to plan with the London side being held at half time. The 51-year-old looked frustrated and the team talk must have been a warning to his players that they must improve.
They did, and apart from a fantastic Thibaut Courtois save, Costa eased the nerves of fans with a poachers finish before Eden Hazard secured the win.
Interestingly enough, partnerships are always spoken about within teams. But with Chelsea the partnership firing on all cylinders is Ivanovic-Costa. The two have combined very well so far and each Costa goal has been courtesy of an Ivanovic assist.
Looking at both games where Chelsea have come away with three points, Ivanovic has found himself high up the pitch. Something the Serbian enjoys doing is bombing forward and joining attacks and he has managed that regularly in Chelsea’s opening two games.
Judging by Ivanovic’s heat map which measures where the 30 year-old touches and dribbles with the ball, you can see he gets forward as much as possible.
At Burnley he was more advanced than today but that could be down to the fact Chelsea went behind. Yes, they were behind for a short moment but goals change matches and the wing-back decided to attack more resulting in the 3-1 win.
He delivered regular crosses and played neat touches with Fabregas and Schurlle to create attacks. And the fact that Costa is a striker who will run in behind and win balls in the air, Ivanovic and others now have the chance to vary their choice of attack.
The defender even had the chance to come inside and join midfielders in attacking positions. This worked for Chelsea because it gave Schurrle the chance to stay out wide and and the pair again combined in the win over Leicester today – with the opening goal coming from Ivanovic’s driving run.
The Serbian’s heat map from today shows that he was more measured. Ivanovic was solid in both defence and attack and the experienced international looks set to play a major role in Chelsea’s season and Costa’s should the main man stay fit.
Costa made it two goals from two games and the Spaniard is slowly becoming a Chelsea hit. Signing from Atletico Madrid after a fantastic season, the 25 year-old was quiet until his strike. It was a real poachers goal and after Ivanovic drove with the ball, his cross was deflected into the strikers path and Costa finished well to give Stamford Bridge the goal they wanted.
Costa only managed three efforts on goal all game but the crucial stat that counts is the goal. He was kept pretty isolated by Wes Morgan during the first half, but Chelsea in general struggled to find a way through.
All four attackers had much more joy in the second half with Oscar hitting the post and Kasper Schmeichal making plenty of saves. One other strength for Chelsea and Ivanovic is Costa’s ability to win aerial duels.
He scored plenty of goals in Spain with his head and in England expect that figure to rise. A physical game that sees plenty of crosses delivered has seen a different Costa. He managed to win over 60% of his headed duels and hold up the ball for his side. The complete striker you could say but that can’t be said until May next year when trophies are decided.
Ivanovic and Costa are likely to feature again next week against Everton and Chelsea will have to be at their best. Roberto Martinez’s side are looking to continue a good start to the season with another victory and Mourinho will know that his Chelsea side will be tested at Goodison Park.
Due to the lack of energy in the first half, Schurrle could be dropped for Willian on the right hand side. If so, the Brazilian will have to continue the teams good start and help Ivanovic get plenty of space in Everton’s half. The pair will be up against Leighton Baines and Kevin Mirallas and with their ability to attack, Chelsea could counter and exploit the space left by the England left-back.
Chelsea have a week to prepare and if Costa is firing and the Blues take control of the game, expect Ivanovic to look for his new team mate as the pair go for three goals from three games.