Diego Costa felt targeted by Premier League referees

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The combative Blues forward acknowledges that he had to become less argumentative in order to avoid suspensions and keep himself on the field

Diego Costa admits that he has had to change his ways at Chelsea in order to avoid costly suspensions.

The Blues striker acknowledges that his frequent incidents with opponents were getting him into trouble and making him an easy target for Premier League referees.

Costa has tried to curb his aggression in the 2016-17 campaign, collecting eight yellow cards in 33 appearances across all competitions.

“The suspensions I received made me reflect,” the Spain international told Chelsea’s official website.

WATCH: Costa chaos in Chelsea training

“I stopped and thought about it. I realised I was the only one losing out at the end of the day.

“Back then sometimes I thought the suspension was unfair and that I was right and the others were wrong, that they were exaggerating. But either way I was always losing out. So it was a question of either letting them send me out all the time or changing, because with no change from my part I would never be playing, never enjoying.

“So I decided to avoid arguments with referees, with players from the other teams. I just knew they would not let the slightest thing pass, not with me.”

Diego Costa Chelsea Premier League

While Costa may have altered one aspect of his game, he has been able to retain the qualities which make him such a fearsome frontman.

He has netted 22 times for club and country this season, with his efforts on the domestic scene helping to keep Chelsea in contention for a league and FA Cup double.

There have been testing periods, such as during the winter transfer window when his future was called into question, but the 28-year-old claims to be enjoying his football at Stamford Bridge and has his sights set on major honours.

Conte: Costa's lack of goals is unlucky

“I want to play,” Costa added.

“Playing right now is great. We are playing to win a championship.

“During the previous season I was out a lot of the time, either because of a suspension or an injury or for another reason. So this year I really want to play the remaining matches and enjoy myself here in Chelsea.”

Antonio Conte’s side travel to Bournemouth on Saturday looking to cement their standing at the top of the Premier League table, with a seven-point lead held over Tottenham at present.

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