Pitchside Europe

Facts: 7 truths – Clinical Costa, heroic Zaha and the game of the season

Pitchside

View gallery

.
Diego Costa celebrates against Everton (Reuters)

Diego Costa celebrates against Everton (Reuters)

1) Diego Costa is the striker Torres and co. were meant to be

Barely 30 seconds into Chelsea’s clash at Everton, Costa popped up behind the opposition defence to stroke home the opener. The Spaniard/Brazilian (delete as you see fit) has started the season efficiently, floating around dangerously, bringing others into play and taking his chances with aplomb.

The Chelsea striker position has proved something of a conundrum with a host of players failing to adapt during Roman Abramovich’s empire. The list of flops is endless – Mutu, Kezman, Shevchenko, Pizarro, Torres… – with Didier Drogba the only player to really thrive in the role at Stamford Bridge. Given his electric start, Costa may finally be the answer to Chelsea’s striker conundrum. 

2) Swansea ALWAYS appoint a good manager

View gallery

.
Swansea manager Garry Monk (Reuters)

Swansea manager Garry Monk (Reuters)

Huw Jenkins might just be the greatest chairman operating in world football. Most people scoffed when Garry Monk was hand-picked to replace Michael Laudrup as Swansea gaffer, but it’s already starting to look like another inspired decision.

Prior to Monk, the recent managerial roll at the Liberty Stadium read: Roberto Martinez, Paulo Sousa, Brendan Rodgers, Laudrup. All four played aesthetic, attacking football; all four carried Swansea to new heights. Monk seems set to make that five from five.

3) Seriously, Alan, just play Hatem Ben Arfa

View gallery

.
Newcastle midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa (Reuters)

Newcastle midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa (Reuters)

Newcastle fans awoke on Saturday to a bizarre story that Birmingham City of the Championship were keen on signing Hatem Ben Arfa. Nice try, Lee Clark, but the Frenchman is arguably the Magpies’ most talented individual. So what if he doesn’t track back and is occasionally sloppy in possession? He’s a match winner and is crying out for Yoan Gouffran’s spot in the starting XI.

Yes, Newcastle’s problem against Crystal Palace was in defence – but that game may have been out of sight had Ben Arfa featured. Anyway, Alan Pardew can hardly ostracise the mercurial attacker while expecting the St James’ Park faithful to forgive his own misdeeds. 

4) Wilfried Zaha is the hero again

View gallery

.
Wilfried Zaha playing for England (Reuters)

Wilfried Zaha playing for England (Reuters)

He’s back… and eager to deliver. After an abysmal season at Manchester United, Zaha is finally free to torment defenders again at Crystal Palace. The winger, oft-slated for his lack of end product, smashed home a stoppage-time leveller against Newcastle before announcing he was “delighted” to be back at the Eagles.

Finally, we’ll get to see Zaha get a run of games in the Premier League (and in internationals probably too, given the dearth of national talent). If he can transfer his trickery from the Championship and make smarter decisions on the ball, then he might just spearhead Palace’s survival. We wonder how David Moyes must have felt when he grabbed that equaliser…

5) Tottenham needed Morgan Schneiderlin, not that chap from Montpellier

View gallery

.
France international Morgan Schneiderlin (22) (Reuters)

France international Morgan Schneiderlin (22) (Reuters)

Schneiderlin’s heroics against West Ham reeked of a player making a last bid to be noticed. Sadly for the Frenchman, it doesn’t appear Tottenham – the side heavily linked with him – are interested after closing in on Montpellier midfielder Benjamin Stambouli.

Stambouli may indeed prove a decent acquisition, but he represents something of a gamble with no Premier League experience. Schneiderlin, contrastingly, has already proven himself in England and impressed again on Saturday with two goals capping a dominant display against West Ham. He might cost a little bit more, but Schneiderlin would have proved the safer option for Spurs. 

6) Expect plenty of 0-0s from Burnley this campaign

View gallery

.
Robin van Persie takes a shot against Burnley (Reuters)

Robin van Persie takes a shot against Burnley (Reuters)

Burnley garnered an impressive point against Manchester United, but failed to take chances that wouldn’t normally be afforded by the top sides. It was a performance built on resolve – suggesting they will be tough to beat on their own patch – but also one short of quality. While fellow promoted sides Leicester and QPR have signed exciting players, Burnley have opted for Premier League rejects and solid Championship players. The harsh reality: they don’t yet have the quality to score enough goals to stay in the division. 

7) We’ve already seen the game of the season

View gallery

.
Everton's Sylvain Distin (R) slides the goal into goal which was disallowed for offside during their English Premier League soccer match against Chels...

Everton's Sylvain Distin (R) slides the goal into goal which was disallowed for offside during their English Premier …

When Ramires slotted home the eighth goal of an extraordinary encounter, the camera panned to Jose Mourinho who was wildly celebrating with his limbs and unleashing verbal venom from his face. Thrillers are not Mourinho’s style, but we’re mighty glad both defences had an off day as the evening entertainment was spectacular.

Of course, there could be a more entertaining match later in the season. But between two of the Premier League’s finest teams? Highly doubtful, although we're happy to be proved wrong.

View comments (19)
Write for Yahoo Sport