The Premier League is back.
An end to the three-month hiatus caused by coronavirus has ensured a return to the storylines that dominated before this, unprecedented and unexpected, break.
Each of the 20 top-flight sides will need to rely on a key man throughout the remaining weeks of this unique 2019/20 campaign. Here is our selection:
History is in danger of repeating itself for Arsenal. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (17) has netted 10-more times than his nearest team-mate (Alexandre Lacazette), with these goals being worth 14 points. Take the Gabon forward’s strikes away – in an, admittedly, rudimentary manner – and the Gunners would be in the drop zone, rather than ninth. A failure to renew the deal that expires next summer bears hallmarks of the era of Robin van Persie, Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas. An unlikely push into the Champions League might be the only way to halt another damaging departure.
Scoring goals isn’t the major problem for second-bottom Villa. If it was, skipper and Manchester United target Jack Grealish would remain their undoubted key man. The return of incessant box-to-box midfielder John McGinn, instead, offers a solution for the division’s leakiest defence (56 conceded). The Scotland international’s comeback isn’t a guaranteed panacea – they were 18th in December when he fractured an ankle in defeat to Southampton. But a sharp return would provide an edge missing to Dean Smith’s flimsy side and, potentially, bridge the two-point gap to safety.
The third-bottom Cherries have it all to do if they want to secure a sixth-successive season of top-flight football. This is where – sometime – England striker Callum Wilson is key. His employers have the joint-highest average ranking of remaining opponent (8.2), play four of the top six and none of the bottom