Arsenal defender Rob Holding has revealed how he had riled up Chelsea striker Diego Costa during the FA Cup final, which the Gunners went on to win owing to a late goal by Aaron Ramsey. Holding and Costa had got into a confrontation of sorts, where the 21-year-old, helped by captain Per Mertesacker, came out on top.
Before the start of the new season, Holding disclosed the interaction between the two players, essentially putting him off by calling him a "nutter" after an exchange of expletives. Holding is set to play a part in the Gunners when the season starts, while Costa is on his way out, having been told by manager Antonio Conte that he does not feature in his plans.
The Blues have already signed striker Alvaro Morata, who will make his first competitive appearance in a FA Cup final replay in the Community Shield. Holding added that he thought Costa appreciated his retort, as the Brazilian born striker tapped his chest on his way out.
"An expletive, then I just called him a nutter basically. Something's not right in his head I don't think. 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," Holding said, as quoted by the Mirror. "I think he sort of tapped my chest so I think there was a little bit of respect there maybe, so he was alright."
Meanwhile, Mertesacker added that he also got into the play with Costa by acting as the silent spectator in the drama, while Holding kept up his aggression. The duo was more or less successful in their play as Arsenal went on to lift the trophy but Costa scored a goal to draw the scores level.
"We went to work on Diego Costa," explained the German. "Rob was giving him a really hard time. I kept patting him on the back, being friendly, while Rob kept on talking to him. A good double act. It was very exciting to see how quickly things can turn."