Jose Mourinho’s league-leading Chelsea sacrificed Liverpool, 2-1, at Anfield, right in front of Brendan Rodgers’ vulnerable reputation. Many will probably focus on Chelsea defender Gary Cahill and the immense contributions made by his body — his arm provided the deflection for Emre Can’s opener; his foot, Chelsea’s equalizer; and his arm stopped a Steven Gerrard shot which definitely should have resulted in a penalty. But it was the epic struggle between Diego Costa and Martin Skrtel that won the hearts of proper soccer fans, fans hungry for the days when simple assault between the lines was rewarded with a referee’s nod of approval and probably several post-match lagers during a banter session.
But to properly tell the tale of #CostaSkrtelStruggleGate, we have to go back in time. That’s correct, this isn’t the first time Diego Costa and Skrtel have exchanged pleasantries. Way, way back in October 2014, World Cup flop Spain took on Slovakia in a Euro 2016 qualifier in Zilina.
The outing, as you may recall, didn’t end well for Spain; it also didn’t go well for Diego Costa. Spain lost 2-1, and Skrtel was one of the key figures ensuring that Costa and his cohorts remained silent.
That night in Zilina, there was some jawing, with Diego Costa sharing what looks to be either be a passionate defense of Fernando Torres or unpleasantries. You be the judge.
Fast forward to today’s Anfield showdown. The day started with some light shoulder petting from Costa.
When it happened again, Srktel wasn’t happy and took his pleas for order to the authorities. The referee wasn’t too impressed.
At halftime, Srktel let it be known, probably saying something like, “Diego, I shall not have you insult me in front of my co-workers and family. Have some self-respect, my good man.”
Yet at that point, the writing was already on the wall, the bricks laid. The referee was going to let them play, and that’s exactly what Diego Costa did after spending the first half disrespecting Skrtel with impunity.
Costa’s second half finishing move didn’t require more shoving or “strategic banter,” just a gentle stroke of the ball past a herd of Liverpool players, followed by a spin to the corner and a moment to bask in the realization that Skrtel would have a tough time sleeping tonight, partly because Costa is a nightmare to play against, and partly because frequent elbows to the spine make sleeping a challenge.
The scene is set for the next round of #CostaSkrtelStruggleGate.