It finally happened.
Following an impressive run of eleven games without a single booking, Diego Costa received his fifth yellow card of the season in the match against Crystal Palace, taking him out of our next match, against AFC Bournemouth at home. His absence from the line-up could be a big blow considering that he’s directly contributed to 18 of the 35 goals scored by Chelsea in the league this season.
The man in line to fill in for Diego is Michy Batshuayi, set for his first start in the Premier League. Batshuayi has been limited largely to short substitute cameos, but Nemanja Matic sees the young Belgian international fully prepared to take his chance.
"When you have Diego [Costa] in the team it is very hard to get a chance because he is playing so well and scoring goals. But I’m sure Michy is ready to take his opportunity because he is working hard every day. He is a good man."
"We won’t have Diego against Bournemouth but I hope Michy will be the man to decide the game. If he does that it will be good for us. He is a great striker, for sure, that is why Chelsea bought him. I’m sure if he gets a chance to score in the next game, he’ll take it."
The 22-year-old striker has accumulated only 300 minutes of playing time over ten substitute appearances in the league and three starts in the EFL Cup — a competition from which Chelsea were eliminated by West Ham in October. Still, Batshuayi keeps on developing his skills during training sessions, using the opportunity to work with one of the world's best players in his position to learn and improve his play.
"Of course he has benefited from working with Costa. It was the same with me seven years ago [in Matic’s first spell at the club]. It was very good for me to see how Frank Lampard played, how Michael Ballack played and Michael Essien."
"So it is good for Michy and a good experience for him to see Diego’s movement. He will have learned from watching and playing with Diego [in training]."
-Nemanja Matic; source: Evening Standard
Amidst rumours linking Batshuayi to an exit in January on loan, this will be a good opportunity for him to translate hard work in training to success on the pitch.
“It’s not easy to arrive and understand and adapt to his league. I can see another example, Zaza at West Ham. I know him very well, he played with me at the Euros, and he is a good player, but in England he is having a lot of difficulty.”
“This football is very tough, very physical. Michy has good quality, he’s very young, and it’s important for him to continue to work and improve, and I think this season he can have a good satisfaction.”
-Antonio Conte; source: Evening Standard
Batshuayi has shown he can make an impact with his game-changing appearances off the bench at the start of the season. Now he has to show that for the whole game.