Anti-hero Costa spares Chelsea & Conte's blushes

Anti-hero Costa spares Chelsea & Conte's blushes
The Spain international dug the Blues defenders out after two major errors almost gifted an otherwise sloppy Swansea City all three points in south Wales

Love him or hate him, Diego Costa is undoubtedly box office. Whether it's arguing with defenders or scoring overhead kicks, it is difficult to take your eyes off him. At the Liberty Stadium he showcased both sides of that distinctive game.

Booked for a rash challenge in the first half and continually engaging in heated debates with the Swansea defenders, this was a typical Costa performance. He riled the home supporters with his antics while helping to raise the volume within those who travelled from west London.
But on the pitch, he also showed exactly why he is so crucial to Antonio Conte's side moving into what looks a difficult run of fixtures. His pinpoint finish in the first half gave the Blues a deserved lead, and while his second-half bicycle kick spared his team-mates blushes rather than sealed all three points, it highlighted his status as one of the finest centre forwards in the English top-flight.
That Costa had to make do with a point from his own Man of the Match performance was down to the continued failings of those at the other end of the pitch.
Individual errors from Thiabaut Courtois and Gary Cahill within the space of three minutes saw Chelsea go from a comfortable lead to facing a first defeat of the season, and though the latter was slightly unfortunate after replays showed he was fouled by Leroy Fer in giving the ball away, question marks remain over Conte's backline with David Luiz waiting in the wings.
Costa now has four goals in his opening three Premier League matches of the season, but having also picked up his third yellow card he risks missing one of the crucial upcoming matches that Conte's side faces.
He was booked for a rash challenge late in the first half and continue to tread a fine line in the second 45 minutes. A red card would have seen him suspended for Friday's clash with Liverpool. Two further bookings in the coming weeks could see him banned for matches with Leicester City or Manchester United.
That vicious streak is what sets him apart from most other forwards in the English game, but he must temper it once he is on a yellow card. He was involved in 22 duels in south Wales - more than any other player - but must learn when to let certain rows go.
Conte has now dropped his first points of the season in a battle with his Italian counter part Francesco Guidolin and may have to react to errors made in his back four ahead of a tougher run of fixtures. 
Chelsea's last three games have been against teams who will probably be battling against relegation, but their next three will be against Liverpool, Leicester City and Arsenal, who will likely be battling for the Champions League places. 
If he stays fit and can avoid too many suspensions, Costa will be Chelsea's top scorer this season, but Conte needs a defence that can be trusted with tougher tests ahead. 

Costa is so good that it is worth putting up with his pantomime antics on the pitch, but you feel if he could get rid of the theatrics, he may become a truly world-class striker.