In Focus: Didier Drogba & Diego Costa at Chelsea - Very different but very much the same.

When Didier Drogba left Chelsea, I can pretty much guarantee that every single Chelsea fan on the planet wondered how on earth we could e...

When Didier Drogba left Chelsea, I can pretty much guarantee that every single Chelsea fan on the planet wondered how on earth we could ever go on to replace him. It took two seasons to do it but when we did, we found someone who would replicate the much-needed presence and focal point in Diego Costa. 

Just to confirm the point of the article here. No-one could or would ever replace Didier Drogba at our Football Club for what he achieved here and for his contribution to the most successful period of our history. Diego Costa arrived at such an important time for us having finished third in the Premier League for two seasons running but struggling for goals up front.

So, to the Icon, the Legend that is Didier Drogba. When he signed for Chelsea from Marseille as this raw centre-forward who looked like a pure goal-scorer having had a good season in France, no-one could have ever imagined that he would turn into one of the most influential strikers at Chelsea and the Premier League. Think back to his raw talent when he arrived to the player that left us for China – you will see exactly what I mean!

Didier Drogba wasn’t the biggest of strikers, he wasn’t built like a brick out-house full of muscles, but he was strong in his core, tall and athletic with an ability to control the ball with both feet. He would impose himself on defenders, hold them off when needed and at times he would almost bully them into submission.

He became such an influence up front for Chelsea that for the eight years he was here in his first stint, our philosophy, team shape and playing style changed. We switched from the customary 4-4-2 formation to a front three with two wide players looking to play off the main striker. Everything we did was focused on playing the ball to Drogba to then look to feed off him whether it was for him to hold it up to then lay the ball off, to play the ball in the air to him for Drogba to challenge to win the header or to look and play the ball into him making a run off the shoulder of his defender. He gave us every single option we needed and became dominant on the pitch and in our dressing room.

Think of the way we played, the players that played with him in those eight seasons and every single one of them had been drilled the same way – play the ball to Drogba first and foremost. If anything, Fernando Torres suffered at Chelsea because he arrived when this was our way, our style which is something foreign and un-natural for him. Torres was used to making that run into the channel or on the shoulder of the last defender expecting the ball to be played to him as Liverpool had done for previous number of seasons.

Torres was asked to play the Drogba role and couldn’t do it. He didn’t have the physical presence to implement our style and never really became the player we needed or the player he was asked to be.
Another important point to note about Didier Drogba was his ability to conjure something literally out of nothing when games looked beyond us. He became an inspiration throughout the Football Club, in the stands with the Chelsea fans and most importantly of all, to his team-mates on that pitch.

When he left Chelsea after winning the Champions League and scoring the best header of a football, I think I have ever seen in Munich, he left us with a massive void to fill. Drogba had scored 100 goals in 226 appearances in the Premier League and 157 goals in 341 games in all competitions, winning the Premier League title four times, the FA Cup four times, League Cup three times and the Champions League - check out Betolimp for the latest odds on tonight's games.

Having watched Chelsea finish third in the Premier League for two seasons running, win the Europa League and reach semi-finals of the Champions League/FA Cup with Fernando Torres and Demba Ba as our striking options, with Samuel Eto’o added to our ranks for that second season, Jose Mourinho made the bold decision with the backing of the Football Club to get three MAJOR transfer deals completed before the start of that summers World Cup in 2014. The rest is history.

Cesc Fabregas, Filipe Luis and Diego Costa all signed early as Chelsea shocked everyone. Jose Mourinho had made is intentions clear with Thibaut Courtois also returning from his loan spell in Madrid. He had plugged the gaps in the squad to make Chelsea a team he believed could be title challengers again.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again, I did not expect anyone to come in to be able to replicate the influence of Didier Drogba up front for Chelsea. To me it would be almost impossible as the game was changing to becoming far more technical. Think of strikers such as Sergio Aguero, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane – all are an influence with their feet nothing like Drogba or at the time the new sensation – Diego Costa.

In Diego Costa we found that player, we found the man that could impose himself on defenders, someone who could bully them into submission (sometimes the wrong way) but most importantly of all, someone who could be THE influence we needed and the player the team could once again build their philosophy/playing style around.

As with Didier Drogba, Diego Costa had everything. Again, he wasn’t the biggest of strikers, he wasn’t built like a brick out-house or muscle ridden but he had a strong inner-core, was tall and athletic with fantastic ability when he had the ball at his feet. Diego Costa was also willing to work hard for the team, he wasn’t selfish but when called upon like Drogba, he could conjure something from nothing to give Chelsea a much important foothold in a game or the three points.

Diego Costa became such an influence on the pitch and had this aura about him. Premier League defenders up and down the country knew that they were in for a fight that afternoon, granted sometimes in more ways that one, but nothing less was expected. His all-round contribution to Chelsea under Jose Mourinho, Guus Hiddink and then Antonio Conte was instrumental on our success. Check out the latest odds on the Premier League at Betolimp ZA.

Two Premier League titles, a League Cup winners medal, 52 Premier League goals in just 89 appearances with 59 goals from 120 games in all competitions, Diego Costa became the main man at such an important time for Chelsea, he took our team by the throat and dragged it back to where it should be while he was then prepared to fight anyone that tried to knock us back down again.

You look back at what Didier Drogba brought to the table at Chelsea and then look at Diego Costa and you will realise they are very different characters but both on that pitch the same – the focal point. Both so important but at different times.


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