EXCLUSIVE | By Chelsea correspondent Tony Hughes
Diego Costa has lost his battle to return to the Chelsea team for Sunday’s Premier League clash against Arsenal, Football Insider sources understand.
The striker is set to be absent from the Blues’ starting eleven for the fourth consecutive match after failing a late fitness check.
Jose Mourinho had said at his pre-match press conference on Friday that he would make a late decision on Costa’s persistent hamstring problem.
Football Insider understands that Costa is still not considered fully fit and is set to also miss out on being named in Chelsea’s 18-man matchday squad for the clash at Emirates Stadium.
With Loic Remy also injured, Mourinho will decide whether to select Didier Drogba, who led the Chelsea attack in the recent wins over Manchester United and QPR, or even choose an attack without an authentic No9.
Speaking on Friday, the manager said: “This week, because we are not sure about [Costa], we decided Solanke wouldn’t play yesterday with the Under-21s, also to have him fresh and ready.
“Didier and Solanke, or Didier and Diego. We make that decision tomorrow. But Diego is there for Leicester if not Arsenal.”
Costa has struggled with hamstring problems all season and limped out of Chelsea’s match against Stoke City earlier this month just 12 minutes after coming on as a half-time substitute.
He subsequently missed the United and QPR games, although Mourinho expects him to be available for Wednesday’s visit to Leicester City.