Gameweek 26 saw Diego Costa score his seventh goal in the eight Premier League matches he has played since Guus Hiddink returned to the Chelsea dugout. That is quite a turnaround in fortune for a striker who scored just three times in the first 14 games he played this season.
The following chart demonstrates why Costa has seen this sudden surge in scoring.
Quite simply, Costa is shooting more frequently. Before Hiddink began to work with the Chelsea players, Costa had fired more than two shots in a game on just two occasions: against West Bromwich Albion in Gameweek 3 and against Norwich in Gameweek 13 (both games in which he scored). Since Gameweek 18 he has achieved that in six games. Costa’s shots and shots on target per 90 numbers have nearly doubled since Guus Hiddink took over and his shots in the box per 90 is twice what it was before.
One note of caution is that Costa’s shots on target conversion rate in the Hiddink era is 64 per cent, which is too high to sustain for long. However, even if that conversion rate regresses, it may not drop far. Last season, when Costa was firing shots on target at a rate very similar to that achieved recently, his conversion rate was 55 per cent. That is at the very top end of what we might expect over the course of the season, but the chart above indicates how he can achieve it.
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The conversion rate for shots inside the box is higher than those hit outside the penalty area and the former Atlético Madrid player hits nearly all his shots inside the box. In fact, since Hiddink entered the dugout, Costa hasn’t fired one shot from outside the box. This is a hallmark of Costa’s game in the Premier League. Last season he hit 88 per cent of his shots inside the penalty area and so far this season he has hit 94 per cent of his shots from there.
Costa is undoubtedly a good player when he is on form, the question though is whether there is space in a Fantasy Premier League manager’s three-man front line for him. The Spanish international is among the top three forwards for goals scored and shots inside the box since Gameweek 18, and in the top six for shots and shots on target. With Harry Kane (10.1m) and Sergio Agüero (13.6m) posting similar figures and already in 37.9 and 31.4 per cent of teams respectively, many FPL managers would have to pull a lot of cash from elsewhere in their squad to fit Costa (10.6m) in too.
However, the upcoming blanks and double gameweeks could see the popular forward lines disrupted. Agüero has no Premier League match in Gameweek 27, and both he and Kane would have a blank in Gameweek 30 if their teams progress in the FA Cup. If Manchester City win their FA Cup fifth round game next weekend it would give Chelsea a Gameweek 30 match, but if the Citizens lose it is Chelsea that will have the Premier League blank. Therefore, I would suggest FPL managers thinking of buying Costa should wait for the result of that cup game.