By Chelsea correspondent Tony Hughes
Ryan Shawcross hailed Diego Costa as a “brilliant” striker but also revealed how the Chelsea spearhead tries to “bully” defenders.
The Stoke captain had a series of physical altercations with the Spain international as his team defeated the Premier League champions 1-0 in a feisty clash at the Britannia Stadium.
Shawcross, who was on the winning side against Chelsea for the second time in the three games he has played after a lengthy injury absence, says he enjoyed his battle against Costa.
“Brilliant for me, the kind of battle I like with a striker,” explained Shawcross afterwards. “He is old school, gets in your face, he wants to bully you so you have to stand up to him.
“He’s a fantastic player who is always on the borderline between over and not but he is such a good player and to keep him quiet today, although he had a few chances, was brilliant from all of us.”
The England international also gave his verdict on Chelsea, who are rooted in 16th in the table after their seventh Premier League defeat of the season.
“They’re a top-class team,” observed Shawcross. “Obviously they’re having their troubles now but for us to win two games against them is fantastic.
“They’re world-class players throughout the team. Costa is a brilliant striker who is always going to give you a challenge and Hazard is in the top three players in the world.
“It’s always going to be difficult but we stuck together, put in a fantastic performance and there was a bit of quality in there as well.”