Players who provoke: Diego Costa plus five other masters of the dark arts

Diego Costa was once again the centre of attention for all the wrong reasons as Premier League pundits completed their round-up of the weekend. Sometimes sadly and other times hilariously, all too often the superstar striker’s playground-esque activities on the field make his achievements pale in comparison.

The Chelsea marksman got off scot-free, despite seemingly slapping and pushing Laurent Koscielny, before hounding the referee to see Arsenal centre back Gabriel Paulista sent for an early bath, after attempting to avenge Costa’s provocation.

It is not the first time Costa, whose wrap-sheet includes a retrospective three-match ban for a stamp on Emre Can and a highlight-reel of theatrical falls, has used untoward tricks to hand his team an advantage.

Calculating Costa is, of course, not the only player to use sneakier skills to great and game-changing effect. So here are Coral’s picks of five players whose scheming has seen them lauded as masters of the dark arts…

First, check out Costa’s unsportsman-like efforts against Arsenal:

Ricardo Carvalho
During plotting Portuguese defender Carvalho’s time with Chelsea, there were few more familiar sights than the centre half crowding around the referee to complain, or craftily tugging on the shirts of opponents just out of officials’ eye-line.

Lauded as an intelligent rearguard marshal, Carvalho knew all, and probably invented, most of the tricks in the modern-era book. The now veteran was also not past provoking international teammates for club causes.

See Carvalho annoying compatriot Cristiano Ronaldo:

David Luiz
Formerly of Benfica and Chelsea, and now working his dark magic for PSG (who are 14/1 with Coral to win the Champions League), Brazil centre back Luiz often employs cheeky psychological tactics on opponents to stay ahead of the game.

While not quite moving the goal posts, Luiz looked like a school kid committing a prank as he rubbed out and re-drew a magic foam marker for a free-kick, as PSG clashed with his former club Chelsea in the Champions League.

Luiz also knew just how to work-up ex-clubmate Costa in the same clash, but that match is not the only occasion the Samba star has played off-the-cuff comedian to disguise his defensive shortcomings…

Watch Luiz’s reaction to Rafael Da Silva’s red card:

Notorious for his rather fiery on-pitch temperament, Real Madrid stalwart Pepe is renowned for getting the opposition all hot under the collar.

While the Brazil-born Portugal international’s often undignified attempts did not always pay off, his aggressive antics, when not leaving his teams down to 10 men, could provide a significant mental edge, with former boss Jose Mourinho frequently using him to disrupt Barcelona’s midfield.

Glimpse at a Pepe moment of madness:

Ryan Shawcross
As any good captain should be, Stoke City’s Shawcross is certainly always vocal. However, while the Englishman is always quick to cry foul for his own club, forwards visiting the Britannia Stadium know they are in for a tough time at Potters set-pieces.

An old-school defender, the Manchester United academy graduate seems to see persistent shirt-pulling, tugging and wrestling as integral duties for Stoke, who are 4/1 for a top 10 Premier League finish.

Luis Suarez
Perhaps an obvious choice but, puns aside, sharpshooter Suarez might just bite his own arm off to gain a game advantage. Much-maligned for bold, brash and blatant diving, kicks and brawls, as well as an unusual and unique way of using his teeth to unsettle other teams, Suarez has attracted both the wrath and amusement of rival fans.

Aside from his obvious skills, the now Barcelona superstar has all the tools and tricks of the trade in his armoury to help his clubs win at all costs. Numerous bans for Ajax, Liverpool and Uruguay illustrate this does not always work in his favour, however.

A dramatic Suarez moment: