Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho on Friday announced that striker Diego Costa is unlikely to return before the end of the month, news that could throw the title race wide open.
“We have eight matches to play,” he said. “If he plays four, it’s normal. If he plays three, it’s a little below what I am expecting. If he plays five it is more than what I am expecting, so I am thinking about four matches.”
There is no doubt that with a healthy Diego Costa in the line-up Chelsea are a much better side than without him. The Spanish striker is tied with Spurs hitman Harry Kane with the most goals in the Premier League this season with 19. Loïc Rémy and Didier Drogba do not pose the same threat as a healthy Costa.
Earlier on this season Mourinho was getting plaudits for the stability of his line-up, seemingly rolling out the same starting XI week after week. But I wonder if that approach is starting to catch up with Chelsea as fatigue and injuries are starting to settle in? In their last four games Chelsea have two draws and two wins, with those wins being hard fought against Hull and Stoke, two sides you would normally expect Chelsea to easily beat.
The consensus is that with a seven point gap and a game in hand that Chelsea are champions elect. Bit with a tricky derby at Queens Park Rangers this weekend followed by huge games against Manchester United and Arsenal, and wobble by the Blues now could open the gap for someone to grab the title out of John Terry’s hands.