By London correspondent Tony Hughes
Diego Costa has been called a “cheat” by his team-mate Kurt Zouma in comments that throw a new perspective on the striker’s behaviour against Arsenal.
Zouma made the remarks in a post-match TV interview in the aftermath of Costa’s bust-up with Gunners centre-back Gabriel during Saturday’s ill-tempered clash at Stamford Bridge.
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Asked by a BeIN Sport interviewer if the French defender, who scored Chelsea’s opening goal in the 2-0 victory, was surprised that Costa had behaved the way he did against Arsene Wenger’s team, Zouma replied: “No, we’re not surprised because we know Diego. Everyone knows Diego and this guy likes to cheat a lot and put the opponent out of his game.
“That happened in the game but he’s a really nice guy. We’re proud to have him, like the other players, and we’re happy to win this game today.”
The remarkable confession will increase the pressure on the Football Association to hand Costa a retrospective ban for his conduct at Stamford Bridge.
Any sanctions will depend upon whether referee Mike Dean admits he did not see the full incident and the incidents involving the Spain striker and Gabriel and Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny.
TV pundit Rio Ferdinand were among those who called on the FA to act in the wake of Costa’s conduct, labelling the forward a “petulant baby”.