Diego Costa must change character, says Manchester City’s Manuel Pellegrini ahead of table-topping clash against Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea

By: | Published: January 31, 2015 3:14 PM

Chelsea striker Diego Costa has been banned for 3 matches for stamping on Liverpool's Emre Can during the League Cup semi-final second leg.

Diego Costa, Diego Costa ChelseaChelsea’s Diego Costa appears to stamp on Liverpool’s Martin Skrtel during their English League Cup semi-final second leg match at Stamford Bridge in London. (Reuters)

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini wants banned Chelsea striker Diego Costa to change his character but he does not expect the Premier League leaders to miss their top scorer during the table-topping clash at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

Costa was banned for three matches by the English FA for stamping on Liverpool’s Emre Can during the League Cup semi-final second leg at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.

Having scored 17 Premier League goals for Jose Mourinho’s side this season, Costa’s absence will come as a huge blow for Chelsea when second-placed City arrive in London.

“He has his character, it is not an easy character but I hope that this punishment will be a good thing for him to change in the future,” Pellegrini told a news conference on Friday.

“Big teams and important squads cannot just rely on one player. It is a very important miss for both teams but they have other players to replace him.”

Champions City trail leaders Chelsea by five points after 22 matches but Pellegrini believes it will be too early to rule his side out of the title race whatever the result of the match.

“It’s an important game, it’s not the game that will decide the title because after that we have to play for 45 points,” the Chilean said.

“It’s not a final. Remember, City won the title in 2011-12 after being eight points behind Manchester United.”

Frank Lampard, who spent 13 years at Chelsea and scored over 200 goals for the club, grabbed a late equaliser for City in a 1-1 draw in the reverse fixture at the Etihad in September.

Having won three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, the Champions League and the Europa League during his time at Stamford Bridge, Pellegrini is hoping the 36-year-old receives a warm reception at the place he used to call home.

“He was a top player for them, maybe the most important in Chelsea history,” Pellegrini said. “He gave so many things to that club.

“If he couldn’t continue playing there, he can play here.”

If Lampard were to score against his former employers, Pellegrini said he would celebrate even if the on-loan New York City midfielder does not.

“First I prefer him to score the goal,” he added. “After that we will see if he celebrates or if he doesn’t celebrate. If he scores, I celebrate.”

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