With the 2-1 win over West Ham last night — Chelsea’s 21st in the Premier League this season — the Blues have reestablished a ten-point advantage over second place Tottenham at least until Wednesday, when Manchester City take on Stoke City in hopes of reducing the gap to just eight points.
But even with Chelsea enjoying a comfortable lead over our title rivals, the team do not want to leave anything to chance. After Monday’s win, Diego Costa talked with ESPN Brasil about keeping the right mindset through the final few months of the season.
"We are quite aware of our last season and how we fared back then. We know that the Premier League does not forgive, so we cannot enter the pitch with the mindset that we are already champions, that we already have the title at our hands."
"I believe that we are still many miles apart [from the objective], though we have a good advantage. We need to keep up the pace since every game now is a final. We need to win every game and go through step by step."
West Ham did their best to annoy Chelsea at the London Stadium as they hoped to become the first team to beat Chelsea twice this season, but their efforts were ultimately well contained by the Blues. While Diego believes that the Hammers are always a tough team to face, he thinks their new stadium might not be giving them the same home advantage that they have previously enjoyed at Upton Park.
"I think [West Ham] really notice [the difference between old and new stadiums]. You can see that they are always a difficult team to beat. But in their old stadium every game was tough. In their current pitch they feel the difference since they were used to play for many years in the old one."
"In a stadium like this with the crowd farther from the field, they do not feel that warmth from the supporters nor do they have the precision they previously had. So I think that for us or any other away team that come to play here, it ends up being a neutral field."
With his 17th goal of the season, Costa kept pace in the race for the Golden Boot and also continued his generally excellent season for the Blues after being one of the main people held responsible for last year’s collapse. Of course, controversy is never too far when your name is Diego Costa. Just a few weeks ago, the English media went into veritable frenzy over a supposed training ground bust-up and subsequent transfer rumors to China, which have continued to rumble along ever since.
While no one can know the future 100 per cent, for now at least Diego remains focused on one thing and one thing only: scoring goals.
"Nothing happened! People here invent a lot of things. These [discussions] are situations that happen. I believe I am showing that there were no basis for these rumours. I am playing, I am scoring... This is what matters. Here everyone knows that whatever I do or say can create a lot of speculation."
"Antonio Conte is someone who puts you through tough training. He has his character, as I have mine and so do my teammates. What is important is who shows their character in favour of the team. You see how everyone is in the same tune, in the same path. And we need to keep on following this path.
-Diego Costa; Source: ESPN Brasil
Eleven games left on this path, twenty-six points (so a record of 8-2-1 or 9-0-2) needed to guarantee the title.