The Portuguese winger had been brought in from Wolves with the Whites set to pay £15m for his services next year. He will become one of the club’s most expensive arrivals, and fans couldn’t get their head around him not starting.
Pablo Hernandez didn’t take long to get back to his very best on Sunday – he opened the scoring with a trademark curling effort from long range, and he set up the second goal after embarrassing the Bristol left-back and teeing up Patrick Bamford with an excellent cross.
Many had tried to guess how Bielsa would approach the conundrum of fitting Hernandez and Costa into the same squad. It had largely been thought that the Spaniard could move into the middle operating in the number 10 role that Samu Saiz and Tyler Roberts had played last season.
However, on Sunday, Bielsa opted to use a system that didn’t utilise a number 10. Instead, he went for a midfield trio of Adam Forshaw, Kalvin Phillips and Mateusz Klich.
It worked a treat as well – Forshaw had the best pass completion of any starter and got an assist, Klich completed two key passes and caused multiple problems for the Bristol backline, and as always Phillips dominated the passing and defensive stats.
Winning 3-1 away to a good side doesn’t give Bielsa much incentive to change his lineup, and one area that he certainly won’t want to switch will be on the right-flank as Hernandez was the best player on the pitch on Sunday.
Costa certainly faces an uphill battle to break into this starting XI, and when his chance comes, he has to make sure to take it.