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Stoke renew rivalry with Arsenal

Stoke
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Chelsea's Diego Costa dominated Arsenal defence - Branislav Ivanovic

ESPN FC's Craig Burley reacts to Arsenal's 1-0 defeat to Chelsea, where the Gunners went down to ten men once again.
Chelsea manager Gus Hiddink speaks to the media following his side's 1-0 win over Arsenal, and stresses the importance of the victory.

Diego Costa won the mental battle with Arsenal's defenders during Chelsea's 1-0 win at Emirates Stadium on Sunday, according to teammate Branislav Ivanovic.

Costa found himself at the centre of the game's two decisive moments, tempting Per Mertesacker into a rash tackle as the last man that earned the Arsenal defender a straight red card on 18 minutes before converting a pinpoint Ivanovic cross five minutes later.

Chelsea held on to dent Arsenal's Premier League title hopes and after the match Arsene Wenger accused Costa of deliberately getting Mertesacker sent off, likening the incident to the Spain international's clash with Gabriel Paulista that earned the Brazilian a red card when the two teams met at Stamford Bridge in September.

But while Ivanovic admits that Costa is a provocative presence on the pitch, he insists the Chelsea striker worked within the rules on Sunday.

"Diego Costa was dominant mentally against the Arsenal defenders because every time he made a difference they started provoking him and, when they started kicking him, he was calm, which is good," Ivanovic told talkSPORT.

"And he always wanted to provoke them. It's part of Diego's game, he is always playing this way and if you take that away from Diego he is not the same player.

"He's very smart on the pitch and always knows where the limit is. He provokes but he always stays calm and for us he's very important."

Costa has enjoyed a resurgence under interim manager Guus Hiddink, scoring six goals in six matches in all competitions after netting just four in 21 games prior to the Dutchman's arrival.

Chelsea are assessing the 27-year-old's condition after he was substituted with a knee injury on 68 minutes.

Liam is ESPN FC's Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.

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