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Diego Costa's thirst for goals masks Chelsea flaws

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Chelsea players celebrate Loic Remy's goal

Chelsea players celebrate Loic Remy's goal

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Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic (L) challenges Swansea's Jonjo Shelvey

Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic (L) challenges Swansea's Jonjo Shelvey

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Chelsea's John Terry (R) scores an own goal during their Premier League match against Swansea

Chelsea's John Terry (R) scores an own goal during their Premier League match against Swansea

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Chelsea's Diego Costa celebrates scoring his side's second goal during the Barclays Premier League match

Chelsea's Diego Costa celebrates scoring his side's second goal during the Barclays Premier League match

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Chelsea's Diego Costa celebrates scoring a second goal against Swansea during their English Premier League soccer match at Stamford Bridge

Chelsea's Diego Costa celebrates scoring a second goal against Swansea during their English Premier League soccer match at Stamford Bridge

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Chelsea's Diego Costa celebrates scoring his side's third goal and his hat trick during the Barclays Premier League match at Stamford Bridge

Chelsea's Diego Costa celebrates scoring his side's third goal and his hat trick during the Barclays Premier League match at Stamford Bridge

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Chelsea's Diego Costa and Swansea City's Ashley Williams compete for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match at Stamford Bridge

Chelsea's Diego Costa and Swansea City's Ashley Williams compete for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match at Stamford Bridge

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Chelsea's Oscar and Swansea City's Federico Fernandez compete for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match at Stamford Bridge

Chelsea's Oscar and Swansea City's Federico Fernandez compete for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match at Stamford Bridge

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Chelsea's Loic Remy (R) scores a goal against Swansea City

Chelsea's Loic Remy (R) scores a goal against Swansea City

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Chelsea players celebrate Loic Remy's goal

Diego Costa amasses goals with the diligence and vigour of a man who intends to take them home and eat them afterwards. Whatever he has to do to get one he will do it. This is the hunger for which Chelsea paid £32m, a fee he is repaying at a throttling rate.

Here, Costa scored three - seven for the season. Chelsea scored four, but for large parts of this game, they were pretty much scoring whenever they wanted. After this win over a decent but outmatched Swansea, they lead the table with four wins out of four. It is a record that has installed them as bookmakers' favourites for the title.

But wait a moment. Hindsight can be a funny thing, and the motif of blue shirts stampeding towards the Swansea goal during the second half may obscure the memory of those same blue shirts bumbling haplessly through the first. Make no mistake, this was no routine victory for Chelsea.

"The second half was fantastic for us," Jose Mourinho said. "The first half was fantastic for them." Chelsea's ineptitude during those opening exchanges was down to three factors. First, Swansea's strategy: patient but never predictable. Second, Chelsea's inability to prevent crosses, especially when full-backs Neil Taylor and Angel Rangel created overlaps.

Third, the failure of Chelsea's midfield to assert the slightest modicum of control. They were barely adequate here, although Cesc Fabregas managed to paper over an average defensive display with two assists.

Swansea could have scored several in that opening half-hour. They were forced to make do with one: Oscar failed to follow Ki Sung-yueng's incisive run through the centre, Ki slipped the ball to Taylor, and his early cross was turned in by John Terry.

Swansea were rampant. Wayne Routledge curled just wide from 18 yards. Bafetimbi Gomis should have done better with Taylor's cross.

Around half an hour in, though, Chelsea began to move through the gears. What followed was a slow turning of the screw. Eventually all those blocked shots and last-ditch clearances and free-kicks around the edge of the area had to lead somewhere, but it was Swansea's misfortune to concede right on 45 minutes. Fabregas swung in the corner; Branislav Ivanovic chose that exact moment to give Jordi Amat a big hug. Preoccupied, Amat was powerless to stop Costa heading in from six yards.

It was just a taste of things to come. You could almost hear Swansea creaking in the second half. Eventually Eden Hazard played a beautiful pass into the path of Fabregas - eyes one way, ball another. Fabregas pulled it back for Costa, who slotted home. After that it was open season, at both ends. Jonjo Shelvey only just missed from 30 yards. With 25 minutes left, Wayne Routledge put Gomis through but the Frenchman's chip leaked badly wide.

That was Swansea's last chance to make a game of it. Seconds later, substitute Ramires fluffed his shot from 18 yards, but the ball ran for Costa, who had a simple finish. It looked fortuitous, but it was testament to Costa's thirst for goals: after all, what striker anticipates a miscued shot?

In Costa's terrific start there are echoes of the immediate impact Didier Drogba had on the Stamford Bridge crowd a decade ago, and hope that he might one day emulate him. "He's a special player," said Mourinho, "Didier had a great career; Diego can go on and have the same profile."

Loic Remy came on for his debut and made it 4-1, converting Oscar's square ball with a fine first-time finish. But there was still time for a Swansea flourish. Wilfried Bony's through ball caught Cesar Azpilicueta napping, and Shelvey capitalised.

"It's two leagues within a league," Swansea manager Garry Monk said afterwards. "The top five or six teams can go and spend as much as they want on players. We can't do that."

Mourinho, meanwhile, was in his element. There was a minor scuffle in the closing minutes as he treated us to his now-classic holding-the-ball-behind-his-back act as Swansea tried to effect a quick throw.

He is a man who thrives on antagonism, so it was fitting that he should try to create some of his own: a man desperately short of enemies, for a team desperately short of challengers.

Telegraph

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