Diego Costa will be back to torment Arsene Wenger this week in Europe, three years after he last left his mark on the Arsenal manager in the Premier League.
The Atletico Madrid forward will miss Sunday’s La Liga match with Betis but is desperate to be back to face Arsenal on Thursday.
Costa was at Chelsea in 2015 when he provoked the sending off of Arsenal defender Gabriel Paulista, who was dismissed in a 2-0 defeat for Arsenal.
It was at the end of the first half when Costa swiped Laurent Koscielny in the face and chest-bumped him to the ground. When Gabriel intervened, a pushing-match ensued and both players were booked.
Costa continued to antagonise and when Gabriel stepped back on to Costa’s foot Mike Dean showed him a red card that was later rescinded.
Wenger fumed after the game: ‘He hits him [Koscielny] in the face on purpose. In every game there is aggravation but he gets away with it because of the weakness of the referee.
‘We are guilty because we responded. We knew before the game that he was only looking for that and when he gets touched he goes down like he has been killed. It’s a big injustice. Twice he [Costa] should have been sent off.’
The Brazilian-born Spain international has not mellowed with age. In his first game back at Atletico Madrid in January he managed a goal, a flailing elbow, a tunnel scrap and a red card.
He will rest his troublesome hamstring injury when Atletico Madrid take on Betis but will travel to London and is hopeful of starring at the Emirates Stadium despite the concerns of his coach Diego Simeone, who does not want to risk losing him for the decisive second leg.
Costa’s return to Atletico has been a success despite the fact hat he had to sit out the first half of the season because of the club’s transfer ban.
He trained through the first three months of the campaign, even sparring at Fernando Torres’ gym in the city to get fighting fit.
His strike-rate has been modest with just six goals but he has bought out the best in partner Antoine Griezmann.
The Frenchman had only scored seven goals before January but since Costa’s return he has 19 in his last 22 games.
Costa is now campaigning for Griezmann – who looks set to join Barcelona in the summer – to stay at the club.
‘He persuaded me to come back so I hope he is not going to leave me now,’ he said.
If Costa is fit he will partner Griezmann on Thursday with Fernando Torres on the bench. The former Liverpool and Chelsea striker announced he was leaving Atletico at the end of the season last week.