Paul Merson: Chelsea can’t win the title without this player

The former Arsenal midfielder believes Diego Costa holds the key to Chelsea's title bid

Paul Merson believes Chelsea can’t win the Premier League title without Diego Costa this season.

The Spain international has scored 14 times in 19 games in the Premier League so far this season to help Chelsea hoist themselves to the top of the table after a 13-game winning run.

However, Costa is still waiting for his first goal in 2017 after the Chelsea striker failed to find the net in a 2-0 loss to title rivals Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane earlier this month.

The 28-year-old centre-forward missed last weekend’s 3-0 win at defending champions Leicester City after a reported fallout with manager Antonio Conte amid speculated interest from China.

Speaking to Sky Sports, ex-Arsenal midfielder Merson highlighted Costa’s importance to the Chelsea side ahead of the final 17 games in the 2016-17 Premier League season.

“It has to be Costa, Chelsea can’t win the league without him. People will point to the fact that they’ve won the two games without him 3-0 but it’s in the long-term that he’s important,” Merson told Sky Sports.

“He’s going to be a lot more important as the season gets harder, with the likes of Liverpool and Arsenal coming up. When it becomes a fight you need him up front as a focal point.”

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Costa scored 21 times in 26 games in Chelsea’s title-winning season in 2014-15 during the Spanish striker’s first season in the Premier League.

The Blues finished in tenth place in the table last term.

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