Arsenal's Rob Holding: I called Diego Costa 'a nutter' during FA Cup final
Arsenal defender Rob Holding says he called Chelsea striker Diego Costa "a nutter" as part of their "mind games" during the FA Cup final, but added that there was mutual respect between the two.
Holding sparred with Costa for much of Arsenal's 2-1 win in May as the 21-year-old formed part of the Gunners' back three at Wembley.
He even tapped his own head at times when talking to the fiery striker in a "you're crazy" gesture, and says that his words to Costa were along the same lines.
Asked what he told Costa during the game at an Arsenal Q&A event, Holding said: "An expletive, then I just called him a nutter basically. Something's not right in his head, I don't think."
That game was Holding's biggest test of his first Arsenal season after joining from Bolton last summer, having spent most of the year on the bench before Arsene Wenger switched formations late in the campaign.
But he looked unfazed going up against Costa, who has a history of getting the better of Arsenal defenders.
Costa got Gabriel Paulista sent off at Stamford Bridge two years ago after also clashing with Laurent Koscielny, and Per Mertesacker received a red card for a professional foul on the forward at the Emirates Stadium later that season.
Holding had clearly learned from those games, and said he was prepared to deal with Costa's methods.
"I knew what he was going to play like, I knew he was going to try the mind games and try and throw me off my game, so I just didn't rise to it and got back into position," he said. "I think he sort of tapped my chest, so I think there was a little bit of respect there maybe -- so he was alright."
Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.