By Arsenal correspondent Tony Hughes
Arsene Wenger has singled out Diego Costa as the man Arsenal must stop in Sunday’s Premier League showdown against Chelsea.
Wenger has warned his defenders that the hot-headed striker will fancy a ‘fight’ if he wins his race to be fit for the match at Emirates Stadium.
Costa is in a race against time to be fit as he continues his bid to recover from the bruised shin that forced him off against Everton last Saturday.
Following the temperamental forward’s starring role in the pantomime of Chelsea’s 2-0 win in the reverse fixture in September, Wenger wants his defenders to wise up to Costa’s antics.
Centre-back Gabriel was sent off for kicking out at the 27-year-old at Stamford Bridge but his suspension was later rescinded by the Football Association, who banned Costa for three matches.
Should the Spain centre forward be available to start on Sunday, all eyes will be on how Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker cope with his combative threat.
“We have to be prepared for a battle because Costa gives you a fight. After that, it’s down to the referee,” said Wenger on Thursday morning. “It’s a difficult subject. We have to focus on our performance and forget a little bit about (Costa).”
While Chelsea hope to have Costa and Eden Hazard — who returned to training on Wednesday — back, Arsenal will be boosted by the return of two star men of their own.
Wenger confirmed Mesut Ozil is fit after missing last weekend’s goal-less draw at Stoke, while Alexis Sanchez is in contention to make the bench following nearly two months out.