Chelsea 2-0 Aston Villa: Jose Mourinho full of praise as Diego Costa sparks Blues to life
Jose Mourinho has lauded the character of Diego Costa after the striker returned from his three-match suspension to inspire Chelsea to a much-needed Premier League victory.
Costa was banned retrospectively for violent conduct against Arsenal and the champions' woeful start to the season was extended in his absence.
The Brazil-born Spain striker admitted he was culpable for his own poor start to the season - returning from the summer break overweight - and Mourinho revealed Costa had come up with a solution to the poor results on Friday.
The Blues boss declined to reveal Costa's thoughts, merely laughing at recalling them, but perhaps it was the striker himself after he scored one and forced another in Saturday's 2-0 win over Aston Villa.
"We need him," Mourinho said.
"When we lose him we're a bit in trouble because the team depends on a striker like him, from a character, from a personality like him. So when we don't have him, we miss him."
Costa leads by example, Mourinho says. The Blues boss added: "The way he plays, the way he gives his body to the cause - because his body is always very punished - is brilliant. The team need that."
Despite his effusive praise, Mourinho declined to answer when it was asked if Costa could be a future captain, once John Terry, who will be 35 in December, eventually leaves Stamford Bridge.
Costa was a nuisance against Arsenal and troubled Villa, exposing their defensive lapses.
Villa also tried to provoke the striker, who has a marked disciplinary record, and Mourinho wants such instances to be highlighted and stamped out.
There was one moment late on when Costa wrestled on the floor with Ashley Westwood, neither allowing the other to stand up off the ball.
It appeared almost playful, but there was a kick from Costa after Westwood's hand strayed, whether accidentally or on purpose, towards his shorts.
"I'm pleased he didn't react," Mourinho added.
"But I would be even happier if the people that find his hypothetical or real negative moments, were honest the other way.
"He will get (that) until the moment people point the finger at them and show the images, re-show the images and have the top pundits speaking about it."
Costa was prolific in the early part of last season, his first since his £32million arrival from Atletico Madrid, but has scored just three times this term.
Mourinho says the scoring comparisons are unfair.
"The team is not the same as last season," he said.
"The team starts badly, the team concedes goals, the team is losing and then the opponents defend with everything.
"I don't like to individualise it like this, never. It is never fair to do that.
"It is difficult for the team to be bad and for a striker to be brilliant."