Paul Merson: This is Chelsea’s most important player, he sets the tone

The former Arsenal midfielder highlights the importance of Diego Costa to Chelsea

Paul Merson has singled out Diego Costa as Chelsea’s most-important player.

The Spain international scored Chelsea’s first-half winner in their 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park last weekend to hoist the Blues six points clear of their closest rivals Liverpool in the title race.

Costa has scored 13 of the west London side’s 35 goals in the 2016-17 Premier League campaign so far, helping Chelsea to set the pace in their hunt for a first top-flight crown under new manager Antonio Conte.

The Blues finished in tenth place in the Premier League table last season as Chelsea struggled to find form under Jose Mourinho and his interim successor, Guus Hiddink.

Writing in his Daily Star column ahead of Chelsea’s home clash against Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge on Boxing Day, Merson highlighted Costa’s importance to Conte’s side.

“He is their most important player, their top scorer. He sets the tone and they follow him. They will miss him. If they are going to slip up it’s going to be in a game like this when they don’t have Costa and N’Golo Kante,” Merson said.

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Costa will miss Chelsea’s home clash against Bournemouth through suspension after he picked up his fifth yellow card of the season at Selhurst Park.

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