Winners and Losers: Costa doing the business for Chelsea

Barely a factor in last year’s Premier League title race, Chelsea are after three games this season’s team to beat. It was a summer of quiet revolution at Stamford Bridge and Jose Mourinho’s new standard bearer, Diego Costa, confirmed with two goals against Everton he is ready, willing and able to lead the attack.

It was a ruthless performance in front of goal from the Blues. They had less of the ball than the hosts and fewer shots but Chelsea were devastating whenever they were within 20 yards of the Everton goal. Costa started and finished the rout and though Everton showed some resistance not to capitulate when falling two behind after three minutes, the difference between Costa and Romelu Lukaku was stark.

Lukaku left west London on a permanent basis after Costa was confirmed as Chelsea’s new No.9, heading to Everton after a successful season-long loan at Goodison Park. Perhaps the Belgium international is still dogged by a toe injury that has caused problems so far this season but it was impossible not to compare him with Costa when the two shared the pitch on Saturday. It’s not a comparison that Lukaku comes out of well.

Indeed, Lukaku has barely contributed to Everton’s season so far, at least not in a positive way. He hasn’t scored and has registered only one assist. Costa has no assists but four goals. Statistics from EuroFantasyLeague.com confirm that no striker in the Premier League has made a more positive contribution to their team than Costa – and the only strikers to score more points than Costa last season were Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Suarez.

With 35 league games to go it is too early to crown Chelsea as champions. But it’s looking more likely by the game that any team that finishes above Mourinho’s men will take the title. Costa is of course not the only reason Chelsea appear so strong – the very different but equally important and well-executed displays of Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas have been crucial too – but it’s goals that win games.

Chelsea have then scored more goals in three games than any other team in the top flight. Costa has more than a quarter of them and as long as they keep finding the net with such regularity, conceding more than a goal a game – or three in one, as at Goodison – matters little. Everton, left with the poorest defensive record in the league thanks to Costa and co, may just be the latest in a long line to suffer.

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