Diego Costa's shadow still hangs over Chelsea

This summer has been a very successful one for Chelsea as they have added a number of very good signings to their squad. Antonio Rudiger, Danny Drinkwater, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Davide Zappacosta have helped to pad out the squad, while they also provide competition for Antonio Conte’s reigning champions.

It was also very important that the Italian was able to source a suitable replacement for Nemanja Matic who was allowed to leave for Manchester United and he did that, with Bakayoko already looking like a very strong choice in the middle next to N’Golo Kante.

So far, the former Monaco midfielder has provided a busy and powerful presence in defence, while he looks very good going forward with an appreciation for offensive play, thus allowing the far more defensively-orientated Kante to focus on his own role.

Another player that it was vital Conte replaced was Diego Costa. The combative Spaniard was outstanding last season as he fired the London side to the title. His ability to score, along with his love of giving both centre-halves a battle that took their attention away from his teammates allowed the likes of Eden Hazard and Pedro to run riot.

This game plan allowed Chelsea to canter to the title, with the other 19 teams labouring in their wake. It was a huge surprise to everyone then, that Conte reportedly told Costa he was surplus to requirements. Since then, the Spaniard has not featured for his club and has since flown to Spain to complete his protracted move to Atletico Madrid.

While his apparent transfer is only just taking place, Conte found and brought in a replacement that already has the London side purring. Alvaro Morata has been in fine form so far this season netting six times since the league season began. Indeed, he hit a hat-trick against Stoke City on Saturday as he took a step towards completely banishing the lingering memory of Costa at Chelsea. However, his shadow is just that, still lingering.

Costa seems to only just be on his way towards sealing his move to Atletico Madrid and his antics on social media have continued to keep him in the minds of the fans, with his apparent training in a pair of Chelsea football shorts causing a lot of chatter.

It seems then that the troublesome forward is about to have his wish of returning to Atletico Madrid granted with an apparent £67 million transfer in the offing. But will Chelsea miss him?

The early indications are that they won’t. The attacking-trifecta of Morata, Hazard and Pedro is working just fine without him as the three are beginning to gel following Morata’s transfer and Hazard working his way back from injury.

Indeed, even though Morata has had far fewer games in a Chelsea shirt, the stats seem to display that he is the better forward, although it must be stressed that it is very early days yet:

Alvaro Morata vs Diego Costa (Credit: Squawka.com)

The above stats show the head-to-head between Morata and Costa in a few key areas. While Costa played 35 games to achieve the above ratings, it is interesting to see how quickly Morata is catching up with him. It took Costa 35 games to score 20 goals at a rate of 0.57 goals per game, whereas Chelsea’s new striker is scoring a goal a game. While it would be impractical to assume he will continue this trend all season, if he were able to do it, he would eclipse Costa’s scoring exploits of last season easily.

With regard to assists, Morata is registering one every three games, whereas Costa managed 0.2 assists per game, meaning he would assist a team-mate every five games. In the chances created charts Morata also seems to be far more clinical, notching six goals from 20 total shots, meaning he scores a goal every 3.3 shots he takes. Costa, on the other hand, found the net once every 5.6 shots meaning either he was far more wasteful, or he had a tendency to take on more shots from difficult angles and distances.

Finally, an area in which Costa had a lot of trouble was with his discipline. While the combative Spaniard was praised for his fiery style and love of a battle, he all too often isolated himself in an individual duel with an opposition player which took him out of the game and meant Chelsea were without their focal point in attack.

Morata, on the other hand, seems more intent on sticking to what he is paid to do, and that is to score goals. When he is on the pitch his focus is on how he can get into a scoring position, which opposition player he can exploit, where he is best positioned to get on the end of a pass or how he can set up a team-mate. Costa did these things too, but there were times that his mind was definitely wandering and the Blues can’t afford for their only striker to actually be playing for 20 minutes of the game, with the remaining 70 spent battling a defender, thus only aiding the opposition.

Ultimately, the loss of Costa is a big one. He was undoubtedly a character in the dressing room and on the pitch and most of the fans took to him very quickly. However, he did have his flaws and they were exposed on more than one occasion.

While Morata’s Chelsea career is still budding, it is clear that he can flourish away from Real Madrid, where he never really got the chance to prove himself. Six goals in six Premier League games is a good return for the forward, and the fans will be hoping his scoring exploits continue and improve over the coming years.

For Morata to truly become THE striker at Chelsea though, he must continue his upward trend, and the shadow of Diego Costa that still lingers over the club must be banished by his departure.