Chelsea may get a huge boost for their trip to Arsenal on Sunday (Watch live, 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra) as top scorer Diego Costa is close to returning from injury earlier than expected and the Blues will make a late decision on whether or not the Spanish international will be in their 18-man squad for the trip across England’s capital city.
Costa, 26, has endured persistent hamstring problems over the past 12 months and he recently limped off against Stoke City on Apr. 4 after being on the pitch for just 11 minutes after coming on as a half time substitute but then then re-injuring his problem left hamstring.
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Many expected Costa to be out for the remainder of April with the hamstring issue but according to Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, his star striker could feature this weekend at the Emirates Stadium as Premier League leaders Chelsea take on second-placed Arsenal.
“Diego, let’s make a decision tomorrow,” Mourinho said. “The reality is that we are coping with the difficulties of every match without him. Remy did well for us, Didier did well for us. The team is adapting to playing with two. I would love Diego to be back but I trust the other people and this week we decide not to let Solanke play with the U-21s in case we need him.”
It is likely Costa may only be fit enough for a place on the bench but Mourinho confirmed that if he doesn’t feature on Sunday against the Gunners, Costa will be fit to face Leicester City at the King Power Stadium next Wednesday.
Whether or not to risk Costa is certainly a dilemma for Mourinho as two wins at Arsenal and Leicester in the next five days will officially seal the 2014-15 Premier League title for the Blues and Costa can rest for the remaining four games of the season.
Didier Drogba started and played over 90 minutes of Chelsea’s 1-0 win against Manchester United last Saturday and the Ivorian veteran may well start against on Sunday as Mourinho hinted that Loic Remy is touch and go after suffering a calf injury which kept him out of the win against United.
If Costa is 60 percent fit it may pay to start him and bring on Drogba for the final 30 minutes.
Mourinho usually has a trick up his sleeve and U-21 striker Dominic Solanke has been training with the first team all week as Drogba picked up an ankle injury, plus Remy and Costa have been out. Will Mourinho chuck in academy product Solanke against the Gunners this weekend as Chelsea aim to all but seal the PL title with a win?