After a lengthy pursuit, Chelsea and Jose Mourinho have finally landed their man as Diego Costa is heading to Stamford Bridge.
Costa, 25, has had the release clause in his contract at Atletico Madrid met by the West London outfit as Chelsea confirmed the agreement on Tuesday via the club website.
Personal terms are believed to be a formality, with the Brazilian-born Spanish international striker set to get a huge boost in wages when he switches to the Premier League.
During the 2013-14 season at Atletico, Costa drove the side from the Spanish capital to their first La Liga title since 1996 and the UEFA Champions League final where they lost to crosstown rivals Real in extra time. Costa also scored against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge as Atletico knocked the Blues out of the UCL at the semifinal stage. In total Costa scored 36 goals in 52 games for Atleti last season and scored 64 times in 135 appearances in total. This summer he struggled through injury, looking a shadow of his usual self in the World Cup as Spain crashed out at the group stage. Chelsea will be hoping he has a long rest this offseason to come back fit and ready to lead a title charge.
Does Chelsea need a new striker? Yes. On the same day that announced the agreement for Costa, they also stated that Samuel Eto’o will not sign a new deal at the club.
With Fernando Torres continuing to underwhelm, at least in the goals scored column, and the likes of Eto’o and Demba Ba hardly prolific, Chelsea badly needed a goal threat to challenge for the PL title during the 2014-15 campaign and beyond. Last season Mourinho’s men finished in third place in the PL and midfielder Eden Hazard was their top scorer with just 14 goals.
Costa will provide those goals. Along with plenty of guile and hard work as his play looks to suit the PL perfectly. He battles, scraps and runs himself into the ground during every single game, plus his predatory instincts are second to none in and around the box. Paired with Romelu Lukaku, who is expected to return to Chelsea from his two-year loan spell, he and Costa could tear the PL apart next season.
- Spurs won both matches in 15-16
- Cherries unbeaten in three overall
- Spurs 2W-2D on road this season
Tottenham’s treatment of new boys Bournemouth was downright disrespectful last season, and the improved Cherries would love a measure of payback (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN and online via NBC Sports).
Spurs handled Bournemouth 3-0 at home last season after belting the Cherries 5-1 at Vitality Stadium in October.
[ MORE: USWNT’s Holiday has tumor removed ]
Almost exactly one year later, Bournemouth sits 11th with 11 points and is closer to the top of the table than the bottom.
Meanwhile, Spurs are again in a title race despite the continued absence of striker Harry Kane, who is back training but won’t be available for Saturday’s contest.
What they’re saying
Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe on facing Tottenham: “I think we’re better prepared for these kind of games. We’re more hardened to Premier League football and our belief and confidence levels are better than what they previously were, but we have to prove it on the pitch. It’s going to be a real test for us. They have an outstanding manager who in my opinion is up there with the very best. The intensity at which his sides play makes them difficult opponents. They are general title contenders.”
Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino on Vincent Janssen: “Always we need to give time. He’s young, he’s come in from the Netherlands and always the players that come from outside need time. He’s a striker that brings to the team different characteristics but I am happy with his behavior, his professionalism and how he is playing.”
It’ll be far from easy, and Howe certainly has a motivated team in form. Spurs’ quality will be on display as well, and both managers like to see their teams play free. Call it 2-2.
Week 9 of the 2016-17 Premier League season is here.
[ STREAM: Every PL game live here ]
It all kicks off with Bournemouth hosting Tottenham Hotspur (7:30 a.m. ET live NBCSN andonline via NBC Sports.com) at the Vitality Stadium with two teams full of young English players to go head-to-head.
Then Arsenal welcome Middlesbrough (10 a.m. ET live NBCSN and online via NBC Sports.com) to the Emirates with Arsene Wenger‘s side searching for a seventh-straight win in the PL, while Boro have won just one of their opening eight games.
Rounding things off on Saturday, Liverpool and West Brom clash at Anfield (12:30 p.m. ET live NBC and online via NBC Sports.com) in a battle between two different styles. Can Tony Pulis‘ pragmatic approach shut down Jurgen Klopp‘s fluid offensive machine?
On Sunday Manchester City host Southampton at the Etihad (8:30 a.m. ET live NBCSN and online via NBC Sports.com) with both teams coming off the back of disappointing defeats away in European action. Then comes the big one: Chelsea vs. Manchester United at Stamford Bridge (11 a.m. ET live on NBCSN and online via NBC Sports.com). Jose Mourinho is returning to the Bridge for the first time since he was fired last December and he’ll likely get a very warm reception from the home fans. Will his United side again frustrate a big-name opponent away from home?
You can watch every single second of every single game live online via NBC Sports.com and the NBC Sports App, plus you can also watch Premier League “Goal Rush” at 10 a.m. ET for all the goals as they go in. Goal Rush is available via NBC Sports.com and the NBC Sports App,
If you’re looking for full-event replays of Premier League games, you can find them here. They are available soon after the final whistle, but rights limit us to a certain number each week. Looking for game highlights? Try this. Here’s your full TV schedule for the coming days. Enjoy.
FULL TV SCHEDULE
7:30 a.m. ET: Bournemouth vs. Tottenham – NBCSN [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Arsenal vs. Middlesbrough – NBCSN [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Leicester City vs. Crystal Palace – Premier League Extratime [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Hull City vs. Stoke City – Premier League Extratime [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Swansea City vs. Watford – Premier League Extratime [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Burnley vs. Everton – Premier League Extratime [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: West Ham vs. Sunderland – Premier League Extratime [STREAM]
12:30 p.m. ET: Liverpool vs. West Brom – NBC [STREAM]
8:30 a.m. ET: Manchester City vs. Southampton – NBCSN [STREAM]
11 a.m. ET: Chelsea vs. Manchester United – NBCSN [STREAM]
Maybe he just got sick of the criticism, and of (relatively) keeping his cool.
Maybe he just doesn’t care anymore.
Regardless of the “why”, there’s a lot to love about this season’s Arsene Wenger.
[ MORE: Top 5 PL storylines — Mourinho returns to Stamford Bridge ]
Wenger has slowly built up his hope and expectations for the club. The Gunners “have a better chance” to win in the Champions League. They’re “stronger with every win“, and need humility.
And Wenger is taking it to the jungle to explain that last part.
“I believe that humility is to understand that you start again from zero and that you are in a jungle. We live in a jungle where everybody wants to eat you, and you have to survive by keeping your vigilance. That’s what competition is about. Every day you have to fight again to survive.
“The love to win and the competitiveness of the Premier League is very exciting. We are all in that [jungle] together.”
Arsenal hosts Middlesbrough on Saturday at 10 a.m. ET.
- Liverpool leads all-time: 59W-37D-32L
- Teams drew both matches last season
- WBA last won at Anfield in 2013
West Brom has hope for a big Anfield upset when it visits Liverpool this weekend (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBC and online via NBC Sports).
The Baggies are have picked up points in three of their last five trips to Anfield, and have a 4-4-4 league record against the Reds since returning to the Premier League in 2010.
[ MORE: USWNT’s Holiday has tumor removed ]
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp refused to rule anyone out for Saturday’s match, and the in-form Reds will have to break down a side that’s unbeaten in four.
What they’re saying
Liverpool’s Dejan Lovren: “Every game is a ‘win’ game for us – we have the quality to beat everyone, when you look at the teams we have played already. It’s just about a winning mentality. If we can keep that, at the end of the season we can be proud.”
West Brom boss Tony Pulis: “We know Liverpool is going to be a really tough game. Their front five are exceptional. Jurgen Klopp is passionate and that is important in the game and important for Liverpool. They’ve got a good chance this year. The games that are coming up are difficult but ones we should embrace. Anfield is wonderful.”
Pulis has done a fine job setting his team up to defend, and his counterattack will think well of breaking down Liverpool. But this one’s at Anfield, with the Reds in the international spotlight to end Saturday’s Premier League slate.
It doesn’t feel like an upset is in the cards, especially with the Reds still seething from last week’s scoreless draw vs. Manchester United. Call it Liverpool, 3-0.