Dean should admit Costa deserved a red - Wenger
Chelsea 2-0 Arsenal
Published 21/09/2015 | 02:30
Diego Costa will find out today whether or not he is likely to face a retrospective ban for his part in the controversy that overshadowed Chelsea's victory against Arsenal.
Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager, has appealed to the referee Mike Dean to admit that he got it wrong by not sending off Costa for putting his hands in the face of Laurent Koscielny before Gabriel was shown a red card for kicking the striker.
Arsenal finished the game with nine men, as, apart from Gabriel's dismissal, Santi Cazorla earned two yellow cards. Wenger admitted that Gabriel should not have reacted, but the manager now believes that Costa should be punished for his actions. The Football Association will study Dean's report, due today, before deciding whether or not to refer the matter to a three-man panel of former referees.
Much will depend on whether Costa was booked for his clash with Gabriel, or whether Dean saw him lash out at Koscielny. Should Dean admit that he did not see the incident with Koscielny and would have sent off Costa if he had, then the Chelsea star will face a three-match suspension for violent conduct.
Asked if Costa should face a ban, Wenger said: "Yes, of course. They [the FA] do it for everybody. I would like them, especially Mike Dean, to look at the whole action and see if he stands by his decision."
Any action against Costa would infuriate Chelsea and their manager, Jose Mourinho, who was angered by the fact that the striker was retrospectively banned last season after being accused of deliberately stamping on Liverpool's Emre Can.
Incredibly for a man who winds up opposition defenders and managers so much, Costa has not been sent off in a league game since 2010. But Wenger believes that referees should consider his dark side when they make decisions. "I tell you something, if I am a referee and I am refereeing Diego Costa, I do not send somebody off quickly if he responds because you know he has been well provoked," the Frenchman said.
So why, then, did Gabriel not consider the fact that Costa is the Premier League's biggest wind-up merchant before he flicked a boot at the Chelsea man's leg? The bad feeling between the pair dates back to 2013, when Costa elbowed Gabriel in a match between Atletico Madrid and Villarreal.
"Of course, we warn the players not to get involved and I don't understand Gabriel because he usually looks a calm boy," Wenger said.
"For me, it is not difficult to stay calm. No. You have to be above that. That's part of the game.
"To be professional, to me, is to deal with that. You can spit in my face and if it's in a game then I will not respond. I do not guarantee that outside of the game. What I mean is that the desire to win has to be above all of that."
Mourinho claimed that Costa was no different to a host of physical strikers who make life difficult for defenders. The Chelsea manager said: "It's difficult to play against him. It's difficult to play against Rooney. It's difficult to play against Benteke. It's difficult to play against Suarez. It's difficult to play against Higuain. It's difficult to play against people with this aggression, people who want to score, lose the ball, want to press, want to defend, compete, discuss, go to every ball. But it's because of these players that football is what football is, because they create passion."
The first-half incident between Costa and Koscielny, and the subsequent dismissal of Gabriel, overshadowed the fact that Chelsea returned to somewhere near their best form on Saturday. Cesc Fabregas ran the game in midfield, Costa bullied the Arsenal defenders, Cesar Azpilicueta was effective in defence and attack, while Kurt Zouma dealt with the visitors' pace and opened the scoring.
Mourinho partnered Zouma with Gary Cahill in the centre of defence and left John Terry on the bench. He made a point of attempting to demonstrate there is no bad feeling between the pair by hugging his captain at the final whistle.
With Arsenal down to 10 men, Zouma broke the deadlock in the 53rd minute, heading a Fabregas free-kick past the former Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech at the back post.
Having been booked for a foul on Pedro, Cazorla was given his marching orders with 11 minutes remaining for a late challenge on Fabregas. Eden Hazard benefited from Chelsea's two-man advantage by sending a late shot into the net, via a big deflection off the Arsenal substitute Calum Chambers.
Adding to Wenger's woes was the fact that he had to take off his sole defensive midfielder, Francis-Coquelin, at half-time after the Frenchman sustained a knee injury that will keep him out of the League Cup derby against Tottenham Hotspur.
Mourinho confirmed that Terry would start in Chelsea's League Cup tie at League One Walsall in midweek, along with Radamel Falcao. Costa will be on the substitutes' bench.
Manchester City's defeat against West Ham United means that Chelsea have closed the gap on their Premier League title rivals to eight points.