Conte lauds Costa commitment despite drought for Chelsea striker

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Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has no concern over Diego Costa's form following the striker's dwindling goal return over recent weeks.

Costa has scored 18 goals in all competitions for the Premier League leaders this season but took his run without a finding the net for Chelsea to four matches during Wednesday's crucial 2-1 win over Manchester City at Stamford Bridge.

The Spain international has three in 10 Premier League outings since the turn of the year, when he and Conte were reported to have exchanged cross words amid Costa being linked with a mega-money switch to Chinese Super League club Tianjin Quanjian.

That contrasts with 14 in 18 top-flight encounters up to and including the 4-2 win over Stoke City on New Year's Eve, but Conte feels such runs are part and parcel of being a top level striker rather than symptomatic of a deeper malaise.

"I'm not concerned, it can happen," the former Italy head coach said ahead of Saturday's trip to Bournemouth.

"For me the most important thing is he is showing great commitment and behaviour during the games and is doing what I want.

"He was also unlucky in a lot of circumstances. But a player like Diego Costa can score in any game.

"His character. His personality. That's very important for us and the team. Also, Diego won in the past and he has good experience.

"Goals are important for all forwards but he is important for us whether he is scoring or not."