Premier League run-in: who will be each club’s most important player?


The title, European places, relegation and merit money are at stake. We select the man each squad most need accommodate and firing

Arsenal: Laurent Koscielny

Unai Emery’s selections have been almost impossible to second-guess but if there is one outfield player who is guaranteed to start- when fit- it is Koscielny. Arsenal have often seemed shaky at the back away from home and the captain stands to be a galvanising figure in the run-in, particularly as five of the club’s eight games are on the road. David Hytner

Bournemouth: Josh King

The Norway forward has 11 Premier League goals this season and will be hoping to match his tally of 16 from 2016 -1 7, as Eddie Howe’s side attempt to beat that season’s ninth place- the club’s highest finish. The Cherries’ attacking trio of King, Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser have a blended 28 goals and 19 assists. Ed Aarons

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Brighton: Glenn Murray

The veteran forward’s recent goal drought coincided with the dip that led to Brighton’s slide into relegation trouble. However, the 35 -year-old scored his 13 th aim of the season in the recent win at Crystal Palace. Brighton will need Murray to keep firing as they look to stay out of the bottom three. Jacob Steinberg

Glenn Murray ratings Brighton’s first aim in their 2-1 win over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. Photograph: Julian Finney/ Getty Images

Burnley: Tom Heaton

Burnley have just lost four games in a row, and the mid-season revival that comprehend Tom Heaton reclaim his goalkeeping place from Joe Hart has gradually faded to leave the Clarets perilously close to the relegation stances. To survive Burnley need to stop shipping goals and must hope Heaton can recover the form of a couple of months ago. Paul Wilson

Cardiff City: Victor Camarasa

Signed on loan from Real Betis, Camarasa has been excellent this season. An elegant player with an eye for a goal, the Spaniard brings a touch of class to a workmanlike squad with his craft, flair and intelligent employ of the ball. There is nobody else quite like him at Cardiff. Stuart James

Chelsea: Eden Hazard

Chelsea will surely not secure Champs League qualification without Eden Hazard fit and firing. The Belgian remains this team’s attacking inspiration, a live-wire propelling them forward and contributing goals( 13) and assistances( 11) aplenty. When foes double up on him, teammates are liberated. These might be the last few months we find Hazard wearing Chelsea blue. If he is to leave for Real Madrid, he will want to depart on a high. Dominic Fifield

Chelsea’s Eden Hazard receives a route past three Wolves players. Photograph: Laurence Griffiths/ Getty Images

Crystal Palace: Michy Batshuayi

Palace have leant heavily on Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s outrageous talent from right-back and Luka Milivojevic’s authority, and will always be reliant upon Wilfried Zaha to provide an attacking spark. Yet what this team have missed all season has been a natural goalscorer to convert the chances( not all of them clearcut) they make. Maintaining the form of their Chelsea loanee Michy Batshuayi will therefore be key. DF

Everton: Gylfi Sigurdsson

The club record signing can leave Everton wish more at times but, in another underwhelming season overall at Goodison Park, his quiet effectiveness has been valuable for Marco Silva. The Iceland international has repaid the manager’s confidence in his abilities as a No 10 with 12 Premier League objectives- the highest total of his top-flight career- and an increased influence on the team. Andy Hunter

Fulham: Aleksandar Mitrovic

Despite spending more than PS1 00 m in the summer, Fulham have increasingly relied on players who helped them achieve promotion last season after their fate became clear a few weeks ago. Aleksandar Mitrovic hasn’t discovery the net since his double in the win over Brighton in January but will be looking to put himself in the shop window for a potential summertime move in the seven fixtures remaining. EA

Huddersfield: Karlan Grant

With relegation looming, the manager, Jan Siewert, aims to finish this campaign in a way that spawns hope for next season. Karlan Grant could fire in the goals required for a promotion charge from the Championship. The 21 -year-old has scored three times in six Premier League appearances since joining from Charlton in January, more than any other Huddersfield forward has managed all season. Paul Doyle

Karlan Grant of Huddersfield scores one of his three goals from six Premier League appearances. Photograph: Tony Marshall/ Getty Images

Leicester City: Jamie Vardy

A case could be made for Youri Tielemans, who has showed some lovely touches since arriving from Monaco, but it is hard to look beyond Vardy. With five goals in his last six matches, the former England striker is thriving again and the focal point of a rejuvenated Leicester team. SJ

Liverpool: Virgil van Dijk

The polished rock in the Liverpool defence has been ever-present in the Premier League and Jurgen Klopp’s team depend on his fitness and form continuing for the duration of their enthralling title challenge with Manchester City. Sadio Mane has excelled in assault but it is Van Dijk’s composure, class and authority that shape the title push. AH

Manchester City: Raheem Sterling

For most of last season Manchester City was the Kevin De Bruyne show. This campaign has largely been an exercise in proving they can win without their most creative player, but to do that they need pace and piercing from Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane and Riyad Mahrez on the flanks, with the in-form Sterling arguably the most important. PW

Manchester United: Paul Pogba

Everything at Manchester United seems to come down to money, and if advocates ought to have disappointed by the contribution of the highest-paid player- Alexis Sanchez- at least there have been signs that Paul Pogba can justify his record transfer fee. Now something of a bellwether at Old Trafford, if Pogba is happy the rest falls into place. PW

Newcastle: Miguel Almiron

” Wor Miggy” has breathed new life into Rafael Benitez’s side in their quest, so far apparently successful, to escape a relegation skirmish. Unless you have see the PS20m Paraguay playmaker- signed from Atlanta in January- live, it is hard to appreciate just how devastating Almiron’s change of pace is. His speed with the ball at his feet is breathtaking and he is extremely sharp, mentally and technically. Almiron fazes foes by drifting between the lines and inspires teammates to raise the collective bar. Louise Taylor

Miguel Almiron has breathed new life into Newcastle. Photograph: Ben Early/ Getty Images

Southampton: James Ward-Prowse

His first competitive senior appearance for England in Montenegro as a substitute was just reward for the purple patch with his club that ensure Ward-Prowse propel himself back into arguing for his country. Now the onus will be on the 24 -year-old set-piece specialist to maintain his form as Southampton prepare to enter the familiar territory of a relegation battle. EA

Tottenham: Harry Kane

Did he return too soon from trauma? Has he undermined Son Heung-min? Does he build the team play too directly? Harry Kane is used to the questions and the scrutiny. But the fact remains that the Golden Boot-chasing striker is Spurs’s most potent menace, the player most likely to deliver when it matters. DH

Watford: Abdoulaye Doucoure

The dynamic central midfield duo of Abdoulaye Doucoure and Etienne Capoue have been, in every route, at the heart of Watford’s success this season. But while Domingos Quina and Nathaniel Chalobah deputised admirably during Capoue’s three-match suspension in December, Doucoure’s three-game, injury-enforced absence earlier this year assured the team perform poorly and corroborated his status as the team’s true linchpin. Simon Burnton

Abdoulaye Doucoure, left, is Watford’s linchpin. Photograph: Will Oliver/ EP-AEFE

West Ham: Declan Rice

The 20 -year-old has emerged as one of the best holding midfielders in the Premier League and made his England debut this month after switching allegiance from the Republic of Ireland. West Ham’s hopes of grabbing seventh place will rest heavily on Rice’s pacify interceptions and perceptive pas. JS

Wolves: Raul Jimenez

You could take your pick from four or five but it arguably comes down to a toss of a coin between Joao Moutinho and Jimenez. The latter gets the nod here because, with six assists as well as 15 aims, the Mexican builds such an influential contribution when it comes to deciding games. SJ

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