Shearer Says: “My thoughts on Costa and why Arsenal will not win the league”


“Gabriel was pathetic and stupid”

Diego Costa’s three-match ban didn’t come as a big surprise to me, but I have to say I was very surprised that Arsenal won their appeal against Gabriel’s red card.

Winding your opponents up has gone on since football started, it’s nothing new. If you see or spot a weakness in the other team, then of course you are going to try and gain an advantage by winding them up. The irony was that I’m sure the Arsenal players knew that they could wind Costa up and Koscielny had done just that. Costa was all over him, whacked him a couple of times and then pushed him over and to that point Koscielny had pretty much kept his cool. Which made what Gabriel did even more stupid! If he had stayed out of it, Costa would have been booked and would have been on edge for the rest of the game. For Gabriel to wade in like he did was beyond stupid and the way he carried on was pathetic. He allowed himself to get wound up, he kicked out, got sent off and cost his team. He walked straight into it! I just can’t understand why the FA reversed the red card decision.

I experienced a similar situation famously back in 1998, when we played Argentina in the World Cup. It was an intense, fiercely fought match, with the score two all as we approached half-time, when David Beckham was fouled by Diego Simeone. He then kicked out when lying on the ground. It was of course a stupid thing to do, but sometimes you can’t control your emotions in the heat of a game. I was ten yards away when it happened and immediately thought “we could be in trouble here” but I thought it would be a yellow card. When I saw the red I was shocked but not totally surprised as when you have a European referee they can react like that. I was Captain, and didn’t see the point in being angry, not with David, the ref or Simeone, I just said “right let’s roll our sleeves up and dig deep.” And we came so close to pulling it off.

“Costa is looking for fights rather than playing football”

The trouble with Costa this season is that he’s looking for fights rather than playing football which is a shame because I like the way he plays football. I like his aggression, I like him as a centre forward, and I like the way he doesn’t allow other players to bully him. Put it this way, I would certainly rather have him in my team than playing against me. But at the minute he’s not playing his football as he should do, he is looking to pick fights. For him to get back to his best, the football has to come first rather than the fight.

The grappling, the shoving and the pushing practically happens from every set piece. That’s life and that will always happen in a football match. But throwing your arms around into defenders’ faces like Costa did is always going to run the risk of getting a red card. From now on referees are going to be harsher on him rather than give him a fair game. If he gets a red card that he probably doesn’t deserve during one of his next few games, I won’t be at all surprised.

“It’s very difficult to prove someone’s feigning injury or diving”

I’m pleased that the FA is now taking retrospective action on some of these high profile incidents, but I don’t know how far they can take it. The feigning injury, diving and rolling around trying to con refs is now happening more than ever before, and of course I don’t like it. But it is still very difficult to prove someone’s feigning injury or diving. Looking back on video evidence, it is hard to say that a player has 100 per cent dived. They could turn around and say they went over as they thought they were going to get hit, so is that cheating or just self-protection?

Don’t get me wrong, all this play acting, feigning injury and diving is awful, and we don’t want kids watching the Premier League to then copy what’s going on but it is a tricky area to try and address.

“Arsenal won’t win the Premier League as they have no characters”

I look at Arsenal now and I haven’t changed my mind since the beginning of the season. In my opinion Arsenal will not win the Premier League as they have no real characters. I don’t see a Patrick Vieira, a Tony Adams, a Martin Keown or a David Seaman. They are lacking top class players as well as leaders on the pitch and that is why Arsenal won’t win the Premier League and they won’t win The Champions League.

The Costa and Gabriel situation actually overshadowed another poor performance by Arsenal. I don’t think that was mentioned at all after the game. If you look at the first half particularly, Arsenal didn’t play that well. Chelsea were the better team and deserved to win the game. I know Arsenal had ten men and then nine men later on in the game but it’s another game where Arsenal have lost to a team in the big four.

“Losing Costa for three matches won’t hurt Chelsea that much”

Chelsea’s last three victories could now be the trigger for them to go on an unbeaten run. If you look at their performance against Maccabi Tel Aviv, they played particularly well even if they weren’t facing stiff competition. They moved quickly, got the ball forward quicker and players were taking fewer touches on the ball. It was a performance that mirrored the way they played in the early stages of last season, and that could lead to a winning streak for them. Losing Costa for three matches won’t hurt Chelsea that much. They have got decent replacements such as Falcao and Remy so I don’t think it’s a huge loss. Overall, it was a really significant weekend for the league though. With Chelsea beating Arsenal, and Man City losing to West Ham, the title race has opened up again.

“People will openly admit they missed Jose Mourinho”

One person that will always keep the league entertaining however is Jose Mourinho. I think people will openly admit that they missed him when he wasn’t in the Premier League and whether you like him or not, he is entertaining. Personally I like him and I think he is a fantastic manager but if you don’t like him I still think he’s gold for the pundits, for the media and for everyone else.

“Newcastle need to go down fighting against Chelsea”

Newcastle have been very poor in their last three games which is a big worry. I thought there was going to be a reaction after the West Ham game, but to come out against Watford and actually play worse was hard to believe. To then lose against Sheffield Wednesday at home in the League Cup has left me at a loss for words. The performances have been abject. If there is any positive, and I am struggling to find one, it is that Newcastle got a great result against Chelsea last year at St James’ Park, so I hope that somehow they will take heart from that. They will have to come out against Chelsea and give it everything because if they don’t, the fans will go mad, they just won’t accept the lack of fight. I hope for that reason it is a tough game for Chelsea. Newcastle have been hammered by everyone in the last two weeks, whether it’s the media, the pundits or the fans, so if they are going to get beaten by Chelsea on Saturday, then they have got to go down fighting.

“Martial deserves great credit for how he’s handled all the pressure”

It has been a great start for the youngster Anthony Martial. There was a lot of pressure on him through no fault of his own, with the transfer window and becoming the most expensive teenager in the world, along with the excitement of moving to Old Trafford, but he has handled that extremely well. He has scored goals, he’s looked sharp and has lived up to people’s expectations and more. He deserves great credit for how he’s handled all the pressure. Yes, he has been impressive on the pitch, but it also you shows you that he has a strong mental attitude.

As for the likes of Kane, Aguero, Rooney, Hazard and Costa not scoring goals, well I think that is just a coincidence. There is no denying that these guys have great ability and I just think it’s a matter of time before they start firing.

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