With only a few Premier League games left in the 2017/2018 season, there will be many players that will be decisive for their respective clubs. Whether it is scoring goals, creating them, or stopping them, every team will have their key player to give them the best finish to the current Premier League campaign. I will be looking at which player that will be.
AFC Bournemouth - Callum Wilson
Bournemouth currently lie in 12th place in the Premier League, which is quite good going for a side that hasn’t really spent that long in the top division. I believe that if Eddie Howe and his squad are going to maintain their position they will have to score plenty of goals, something they haven’t been fantastic at so far in the season thanks to only hitting the net 34 times. It is with this logic that I believe Callum Wilson will be their key player in the final matches of the season as he is The Cherries’ top scorer in the Premier League.
Arsenal - Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
This might be an obvious choice but it is with good reason. The Gabon international arrived at the club during the January transfer window and managed to score on his debut for the Gunners. It would have been a hard job trying to fill the gap left by Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud but, with the right service, Aubameyang could score a hatful, securing a decent finish in what has so far been a disappointing season for Arsenal. Resurrecting a successful Dortmund partnership with Henrikh Mkhitaryan could also prove to do wonders for the pacey striker.
Brighton and Hove Albion - Jose Izquierdo
Brighton are 10th in the league and surges from teams like Swansea and Crystal Palace may see them drop even further down the table if they are unable to find some way of grinding out those crucial wins. Glenn Murray is the club’s top scorer so far but I think that the Colombian forward will be more instrumental as the season comes to a close. This is because as teams get more tired and stretched, the one thing that can really hurt is a forward with pace and shooting ability, both of which Izquierdo possesses and is evidenced by his four goals so far this campaign.
Burnley - Aaron Lennon
Thanks to the loss of Robbie Brady and the long list of injuries at Turf Moor, Burnley entered the January transfer window crying out for a fast winger, they ended it with two additions, both from high-profile clubs in the league. Georges-Kevin NKoudou, on loan from Spurs and Aaron Lennon who signed from Everton. The latter began his time at Turf Moor well, making his debut against league leaders Manchester City and forming an impressive combination with right-back Matthew Lowton. Lennon continued to impress the Clarets faithful including a good performance against his old club Everton and getting into some good scoring opportunities. Can he replicate the kind of form Robbie Brady was in when he got injured? I think so.
Chelsea - Eden Hazard
An article about key Premier League players would not be complete without Eden Hazard. The Chelsea midfielder is the Blues’ highest scorer this season and, as they hunt down a top-four finish they will certainly need goals considering new signing Alvaro Morata is not exactly pushing Harry Kane and Mo Salah in the goal-scoring department. Hazard also seems to be the club’s most creative player and will definitely be important if they are going to get back into the top four following their drop into 5th.
Crystal Palace- Luka Milivojevic
With key player Wilfried Zaha out injured, Palace will be looking for another man to rally around as they begin their push to secure top-flight football for the 2018-19 season and Luka Milivojevic seems to be that man. Not only has the Serbian scored the most goals for the Eagles this season, but he has also played the most passes, and made the most tackles, showing his influence in games. Crystal Palace will need to win games in the final part of the season instead of grinding out victories considering there are 7 teams within three points of each other. Milivojevic’s influence in midfield will be the most important factor as they don’t score a huge amount of goals, so protecting leads will be key if they are going to stay up.
Everton - Wayne Rooney
Over the last few seasons, the former England captain has been labelled as “past it” by many people, yet I believe that he still has the ability to do a good job in the Premier League. As Everton’s top scorer this season Rooney is showing the qualities that will be needed if the Merseyside outfit are going to stay in the top 10 positions in the league. He will also be a valuable asset in the squad as his experience may be key in the run-in if Sam Allardyce is going to get the best out of young players such as Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Michael Keane and Mason Holgate.
Huddersfield Town - Aaron Mooy
Huddersfield Town were tipped for relegation before the season even started but Aaron Mooy has shown to be a shining star in the team. The team from West Yorkshire lie in 15th place in the league but are only three points clear of the relegation zone. Mooy, who was previously at Manchester City, is in the top three of many of the team’s statistics so far this season and could be someone for the Terriers boss David Wagner to build the team around, in order to get the best out of the Australian. Mooy is a key part of the Huddersfield squad and will be essential if they are to stay in the division.
Leicester City - Riyad Mahrez
A player can be influential for a team for negative reasons as well as good ones and one such player is Riyad Mahrez. Mahrez has been tipped for good things since Leicester’s staggering league win in 2016 and seemed to come incredibly close to a move to Manchester City in the January transfer window. This move eventually fell through and it seemed as though Claude Puel, despite hanging on to his player contractually, may have lost his man. Mahrez put in a good performance in the 1-1 draw against Stoke so, if he can sort his head out and carry on playing well for the Foxes, he may be influential as they seek to topple Burnley from the 7th spot they currently occupy, however, if he loses his head again and ends up refusing to play, he could do more damage than good.
Liverpool - Mo Salah
Mo Salah was deemed a failure when he was sold to Roma by Chelsea in 2016 but since he was brought in by Jurgen Klopp in the summer he has thrived. 25 goals in 40 appearances for the Reds has shown that he is more than capable of being one of the best players in the world. Liverpool have been missing the kind of player that can score for fun ever since Luis Suarez left for Barcelona so it is encouraging for fans that, even despite losing Philippe Coutinho, they have the ability to score plenty of goals. If Liverpool are going to secure Champions League football again, and possibly even hunt down Manchester United, they will need Salah to be at his sparkling best.
Manchester City - Bernardo Silva
It must be hard to choose a standout player when you look at one of, if not the, best teams in the world but I have chosen one that is probably unexpected. Many people will think of Kevin De Bruyne, Leroy Sane or Sergio Aguero to be City’s main player but from what I have seen, Bernardo Silva can cause the most problems for other teams. Whilst other teams focus on keeping tabs on the other “star” players, Silva tends to fly under the radar and use his ability to keep the ball right on his toes to devastate teams. His ability to also play either out wide or in the middle shows how Pep Guardiola can use him as a replacement for a number of different players if it is needed.
Manchester United - Alexis Sanchez
Despite being one of the main players during his time at Arsenal, Sanchez didn’t have the greatest impact when he first started in Manchester, if anything he has given boss Jose Mourinho an even bigger headache about which of his world-class players he should start. I believe however that as the season winds down, Sanchez’s passing ability, pace and shooting means that he can play either out wide or up front should he be required to. Not only could he be valuable when it comes to scoring goals, but his movement can help take defenders away from other players, giving them the chance to hit the net. It can be tough to settle into a team halfway through the season but if Sanchez can form a good bond with the other members of the squad, it should make United incredibly hard to beat as they try to complete their bid to be the best of the rest.
Newcastle United - Matt Ritchie
Getting promoted back into the Premier League at the first time of asking isn’t an easy task, but Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle managed to do so. They have however failed to replicate the kinds of good performances that a club like Newcastle is owed. They currently sit towards the bottom of the table in 16th position yet still run the risk of going down if they aren’t careful. This means that staying up will be a team effort, however, I believe that Matt Richie will be the key. Richie was linked with moves away from St. James’ Stadium yet he stayed and has, so far, been one of the most influential players in terms of chances created, with the most assists and shots on goal. If he can continue creating these chances for the strikers, he can be a very key player.
Southampton - Manolo Gabbiadini
At the time of writing Southampton sit in 17th place, a disappointment for many Saints fans. What will really help them if they are going to recover and stay in the league is goals and, with Charlie Austin out injured for the rest of the season Manolo Gabbiadini is likely to be the source of those goals. With four goals so far, including a controversial last-minute equaliser against Burnley, he certainly knows where the goal is and he is, I believe, going to be the most influential Southampton player in the run in.
Stoke City - Xherdan Shaqiri
Something Stoke fans aren’t normally accustomed to is being down in the relegation zone and if there is one man who can save them, it's Shaqiri. The Swiss international has become synonymous with scoring fantastic goals but, as the clubs highest scorer this season, he will have to find a way to bag more because teams down in the drop zone need a man to rally behind. I believe that Shaqiri is that man due to his ability, something that is almost out of place in the Premier League relegation zone. His assists will also be key in bringing the rest of the squad into the fold.
Swansea City - Andre Ayew
Swansea have seen a huge resurgence since the arrival of Carlos Carvahal and are now sitting in 13th place, a spot that may have been seen as unattainable at the beginning of the season. Andre Ayew, having returned from West Ham has had a big impact, both in the league and the FA Cup, and will most likely end the season in good form. His movement and speed can help prove to be important as the Swans try and finish the season in a way that may have been unimaginable before December whilst Ayew will try and chase down his brother Jordan, in the club’s goalscoring charts this season.
Tottenham Hotspur - Harry Kane
There isn’t much doubt who Tottenham’s most influential player you’ll be this season. Harry Kane is arguably one of, if not the, best strikers in the world at the moment. It is for this reason that he will be the key player for the Lilywhites as they attempt to chase down Manchester United and Liverpool to secure Champion League football next season. With 24 goals in the league so far (tied only with Mo Salah), he will most likely go on to win the golden boot for yet another season. His importance in the Spurs squad is shown by his 14 goal lead in the team’s scoring charts, leading Son Heung-Min on 10 and Christian Eriksen on 7. The English striker is also looking to find even more form as he will be without a doubt one of the first names on the England team sheet too, being England’s best hope of scoring at the upcoming World Cup in Russia.
Watford - Abdoulaye Doucoure
Watford enjoyed a strong start to the season but have struggled somewhat to recover from a dip in form after ex-manager Marco Silva allegedly had his head turned by Everton. Sitting in 9th, only a point behind Leicester in 8th, the Hornets will be hoping for a strong finish. Doucoure has the most passes, tackles and interceptions in the Watford squad this season and is surely the man they can rally around. Chipping in with 7 goals, which could increase in coming weeks, will also have helped to ease the pressure on the strikers, especially with £18m summer signing Andre Gray not firing on all cylinders. A sturdy player in midfield is key to playing well, so if Doucoure can find form in the latter part of the season, things should be okay for Watford.
West Bromwich Albion - Jay Rodriguez
A club where things are definitely not going to plan is West Brom. Sitting at the bottom of the pile, the Baggies have found themselves 7 points behind Stoke and seriously lacking a goal threat. The main producers of goals this season have been Salomon Rondon and the above mentioned Jay Rodriguez, but goals have not been something that have come easily to Alan Pardew’s men. If Rodriguez can find his feet and start to find the net more than he has so far, West Brom might be in with a fighting chance of pulling off what would be an incredible achievement. He has shown that he has the ability to score in this league, scoring almost 30 goals for Southampton before he arrived at the Hawthorns. It is also more important than ever that the Burnley-born striker after the loan-signing Daniel Sturridge picked up an injury that would rule him out for around a month, although he does have a history with injuries so it wouldn’t surprise me if we don’t see much more from him for the rest of the season.
West Ham United - Marko Arnautovic
The final team on this list, West Ham are currently sitting in 14th place and have just come off the back of a 4-1 thumping at the hands of Swansea. They will be looking upwards and they will almost certainly need to be good going forward if they are to get anything in their coming matches, Burnley, Southampton and Chelsea. It is good news, then, that they have a player like Marko Arnautovic at their disposal. With seven goals this season, Arnautovic is the Hammers’ highest goalscorer and he will most likely be the man that will help to pull them away from the dreaded relegation zone. With so many teams in such a short points gap, it would be easy for a team in West Ham’s position to be brought right into a relegation scrap, as it will be crucial that the Austrian forward can continue to find the net as the season comes to a close.
Do you agree with your clubs selection? Let us know in the comments below!