The Premier League is back – and there is a lot to do for clubs and players.
The title race may be almost over, but the minor qualifying and relegation problems of the Champions League remain to be resolved.
The three-month hiatus from the coronavirus gave clubs and players a chance to come together, and several stars who have had difficult campaigns now have the opportunity to end on a high note.
Sportsmail examines which players have the most points to prove in the final games of the season.
Arsenal – Alexandre Lacazette
Forward Lacazette struggled to replicate his impressive form from the 2018-2019 season and spent three months without goal between December and February.
The Frenchman’s form started again just before the suspension with strikes against Olympiacos and West Ham, bringing his total to nine for the season.
Alexandre Lacazette will have to compete with the return of Eddie Nketiah for a starting place
But Mikel Arteta’s decision to recall Eddie Nketiah has given Lacazette additional pressure to play with the Gunners boss, indicating that the 21-year-old will have an important role to play in the remaining games.
While the future of Captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s Arsenal looks uncertain, Lacazette must prove that he can stand out and be the main man when he is called.
If the club decides to sell its skipper in summer, Lacazette, 29, could find himself in competition with a replacement signature as well as some of the promising youngsters.
Villa Aston – Mbwana Samatta
The £ 8.5 million signing kicked off with a goal in his Premier League debut – but that was not enough to prevent a 2-1 defeat by Bournemouth in early February.
Villa had been relying on Jack Grealish for goals, but the captain needs his teammates to come into play as they fight for survival.
John McGinn’s return may ease the pressure on Grealish’s shoulders, but striker Wesley Moraes remains injured, which means Samatta is likely to nod.
Mbwana Samatta will lead the line as Villa must seek to avoid relegation to the Championship
The 27-year-old scored 10 goals for Genk before moving to England in January and will have to rediscover that form if Villa is to avoid relegation.
He also managed to find the net against Liverpool in the Champions League group stage and he hopes to unlock the Reds’ defense again when Villa travels to Anfield in July.
The club have a tough game with European opponents Sheffield United, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Wolves, but games against Newcastle, Crystal Palace and a final day clash with relegation rivals West Ham will be crucial.
Bournemouth – Dominic Solanke
It took 12 months for Solanke, 22, to score his first goal for Bournemouth since his transfer from Liverpool to £ 19 million with a FA Cup strike against Luton in January.
But he continued with a goal in a major 3-1 victory over Brighton later this month.
Dominic Solanke took 12 months to score his first goal at Bournemouth earlier this year
Eddie Howe has provided the striker with opportunities this season, but has so far struggled to keep up with the Cherries’ costs in 2019.
He can still play an important role in the club’s remaining nine games and must show that he can eventually become a long-term replacement for Callum Wilson.
Wilson was linked to a move to Chelsea last summer and may attract more interest at the end of this season. Solanke has always been considered a player with great potential and there is no better time to start realizing it.
Brighton – Yves Bissouma
The £ 15m man was signed in 2018 and took the time to adjust to the Premier League after impressing in Ligue 1 for Lille.
But the midfielder looked brilliant before the season ended and had won his third straight appearance in the club’s last game – a 0-0 draw with the Wolves.
The 15 million pound man was signed in 2018 but it took a while to adjust to the English game.
The 23-year-old was congratulated by Graham Potter after the game with the manager saying he can get better despite only 13 games this season.
But the Seagulls are still locked in the relegation battle and will face a tough comeback with their first three games against Arsenal, Leicester and Manchester United.
Matches against Norwich, Southampton, Newcastle and Burnley will decide if the club will play in the elite next season and they need Bissouma to be at the top of his game and respect the fees for which he was signed.
Burnley – Matej Vydra
Vydra had scored two goals in his last four games with Sean Dyche and was another player who started to recover before stopping.
Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes’ injuries have made them doubt the first game against Manchester City on June 22, which means Vydra is likely to start – but he has to show his manager that he can keep his shape shown in February.
Matej Vydra has scored two goals in his last four games and will have a chance to prove himself
Burnley is not at risk of being relegated, so the striker does not have to deal with the pressure of having to keep his team in the division, but he has his own future to think about with his contract which will only last one year.
If he wants to stay in Burnley for the long term, he will have to prove that he can be consistent in the Premier League and finally shirk the label of being a prolific league player.
Chelsea – Kepa Arrizabalaga
It was another frustrating season for the Chelsea goalkeeper.
The 25-year-old lost his starting spot against Willy Caballero in February, but returned to play in a 4-0 victory over Everton in the last game before the break.
The Blues seem to be able to spend money when the transfer window opens, Timo Werner to arrive for £ 53 million and Frank Lampard has been strongly linked to the signing of a new goalkeeper at the end of the season.
Spaniard Kepa has one of the worst records in the league this season with only six blank sheets
The Spaniard has one of the worst records in the league this season, conceding 32 goals and keeping just six clean sheets.
As Chelsea fights for a place in the Champions League, Kepa simply has to prove that he can be their No. 1 in the foreseeable future.
Lampard has shown that he is not afraid to throw Caballero into the ring and that any mistake by Kepa could cost him his place and his future at Stamford Bridge. It is time for the £ 72 million man to prove that the doubters are wrong.
Crystal Palace – Christian Benteke
It’s fair to say that Benteke has been overshadowed by strike partner Jordan Ayew this season.
Benteke had only one goal against Ayew’s eight and the Belgian also had only one pass.
Christian Benteke only scored one goal compared to Jordan Ayew who is eight
Perhaps not surprisingly, Palace is one of the lowest scoring teams in the division – only Newcastle and Norwich have scored fewer goals than Roy Hodgson’s team.
Wilfried Zaha’s goals and assists have won the Eagles in recent years, but the winger has found it more difficult this season.
Benteke is one year older to execute his contract at Selhurst Park and, at the age of 29, he really needs to quickly find his brand shoes if he wants to stay at the club beyond next season.
Leicester – Demarai Gray
A lack of consistency has been a recurring problem for promising Leicester winger Gray.
The 23-year-old is capable of being a very good Premier League player but has tended to show his talent in short flashes.
His pace and skills are undeniable, but his end product often left him with only one goal and helped in 14 appearances.
Lack of consistency has been a recurring problem for promising Leicester winger
Brendan Rodgers hasn’t yet managed to give him a good run on the team, but with the Foxes preparing to secure Champions League football for next season, the manager may be tempted to give him more ‘opportunities.
Gray’s contract expires in 2021 and he must show that he can be a player capable of playing in the Premier League and Europe.
Everton – Moise Kean
Forward Kean always had to take the time to adapt to the English game, but the 20-year-old has struggled to get started since arriving at Goodison Park.
The appointment of Carlo Ancelotti, an Italian compatriot and a fan of Kean, was supposed to revive his career in Merseyside but he has managed only one goal and one assist (two in total) since the manager’s arrival.
Moise Kean struggled to get started in England but he is very appreciated by Carlo Ancelotti
The striker caused controversy off the field, as one of the Premier League stars broke the lock rules, which prompted the club to take disciplinary action.
Kean is still young and his manager clearly sees potential in him. This is a good opportunity for the attacker to put the past behind him and show the fans why it was signed last summer.
Liverpool – Takumi Minamino
Forcing your way into a team 25 points ahead of the table has never been easy.
Minamino was considered a theft when Liverpool recruited him from RB Salzburg for £ 7 million in January, but the midfielder has not yet been sidelined on the side.
Minamino should have plenty of opportunities to prove itself before the end of the season
But it’s not unusual for Jurgen Klopp’s signatures. Andy Robertson was placed in the first team by stages and is now one of the first names on the team sheet.
The Reds could have the title finished with seven games to go, or even eight if Man City loses to Arsenal, and that will give some of the marginal players a chance.
Minamino excited Anfield’s Champions League crowd for his former team earlier this season, but has yet to see him play that type of game in a Liverpool jersey. He should have plenty of opportunities to prove himself before the campaign ends.
Manchester City – John Stones
The departure of Vincent Kompany and an injury to Aymeric Laporte in August should really have seen Stones cement a place in the center of the defense of City.
But Nicolas Otamendi managed to make his way in front of him in the hierarchical order and to make matters worse, Pep Guardiola even chose to play Fernandinho out of position several times until Laporte regains his physical form.
With just 12 league appearances this season, Stones also lost his spot on the England squad after being the top center back at the 2018 World Cup.
John Stones fell in hierarchy and lost his place in England as a result
Laporte and Otamendi will likely continue to be the first choice for the restart, but with Laporte’s injury record, Guardiola is likely to prioritize the Frenchman for the Champions League.
City has almost lost its Premier League title and it would make sense for the manager to turn his team around.
Stones must make sure he is ready to produce perfect performances if he is to regain the confidence of his coach.
Manchester United – Paul Pogba
It was the transfer saga of the season – will it stay, will it go? Talking about Pogba’s future at Manchester United refused to leave despite the midfielder having spent most of the campaign on the sidelines.
But despite everything, it looked like the Frenchman was destined to leave Old Trafford, the break gave Pogba the chance to return to Team United and help them secure Champions League football for next season.
Paul Pogba to leave Manchester United, but could still be a big player
There is no guarantee that he will return directly to the team as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team was in good shape before the suspension.
But there is no doubt that Pogba, in its time, can be a match winner. The midfielder has had his critics for underperformance in the past and his agent Mino Raiola’s efforts to link him to a transfer.
But a large money transfer to Real Madrid or Juventus may have been made more difficult by the coronavirus pandemic. If Pogba wants to stay at United, he has to show it.
Newcastle – Joelinton
There is always pressure on strikers who sign for a large sum and this is no different for Joelinton.
Newcastle paid £ 40 million for the 22-year-old last summer, but he has only one Premier League goal and two FA Cup goals to prove it.
Some players need time to adjust to the English game, but Joelinton has the added pressure of a potential takeover going on before next season.
Newcastle paid £ 40 million for the 22-year-old last summer, but has only one goal in the league
If the attacker fails to hit the ground when the league resumes, new owners could make funds available to Steve Bruce or another manager to bring in a new attacker.
The Brazilian, who had seven goals and seven assists for Hoffenheim last season, is still young, but attackers signed for large sums sometimes do not have the time necessary to realize their potential.
With Newcastle virtually safe, it’s a great opportunity for the attacker to show people what he can do.
Norwich – Teemu Pukki
Choosing the top scorer for the Canaries may seem difficult, but it is because of the high standards the attacker set at the start of the season that sets him apart.
The Finnish international has scored six goals in the first five games but has only scored two in his last 12 games.
Norwich needs his top scorer to recover his former form in order to avoid relegation
The 30-year-old also missed great opportunities in games that could have seen Norwich scoring points.
Daniel Farke’s team is the top scorer in the division and it is perhaps not surprising that they also have the lowest shot conversion rate of any team.
With the club six points behind at the bottom of the table, their fate seems sealed, but they still have the opportunity to escape – and they will need their top scorer to be as clinical as he was at the start of. the season if they want to achieve it.
Sheffield United – Oli McBurnie
It’s hard to choose players from Sheffield United who could have a point to prove given Chris Wilder’s team performance this season.
Perhaps a criticism of the Blades is that they weren’t as prolific on goal as the teams around them – their 30 league goals are considerably lower than Tottenham’s totals below them who have 47 and Wolves and Man United who sit right above them on 41 and 44.
Oli McBurnie hopes to add some goals to his tally before the end of the season
McBurnie has four league goals since signing for £ 17 million with Swansea last season.
The striker may be satisfied with his first season back in the elite but could perhaps benefit from a few more strikes before the end of the season, especially since the Blades are fighting for a place in Europe.
Southampton – Che Adams
Aimless since arriving in St Mary’s for £ 16 million last summer, Adams has so far struggled to make the leap to the championship.
The club rejected three offers from Leeds United for the 23-year-old in January and it is clearly part of Ralph Hassenhuttl’s plans for the future.
But he hopes to be able to break his drought target before the end of the season, with Southampton looking pretty safe from relegation.
Che Adams has yet to find the net for Southampton since his £ 16 million move last summer
The forward was prolific for Birmingham last season but lived in the shadow of Danny Ings for most of this campaign.
The Saints have a few favorable encounters before the season ends, including Norwich, Brighton, Bournemouth and Watford. Any of these games could be a chance for Adams to break his duck.
Tottenham – Dele Alli
Eight goals and four assists in the league this season are by no means terrible statistics, but these are the high standards the midfielder has set himself, people are always expecting a little more.
It doesn’t help that the Spurs had a bad campaign with the club withdrawing from the Champions League and the FA Cup – not to mention their humiliation of the Carabao Cup by League Two Colchester.
Tottenham will need Dele Alli on top form to make it to the Champions League
Alli admitted that his team had not been good enough before the break and the English international is one of the many players who struggled in the absence of Harry Kane.
Alli, 24, will miss Jose Mourinho’s first game after being sanctioned by the FA for posting on social media, which should only make him more determined to hit the ground when he returns.
The Spurs are still very much in the running for the Champions League, but they will need Alli at the top of their game to beat Chelsea and Manchester United.
Watford – Andre Gray
The striker struggled to fill the void left by Troy Deeney when the Watford captain was injured early in the season.
It took the skipper to return the Hornets out of the relegation zone, Gray having only managed two goals in 20 appearances.
Andre Gray has only two league goals this season after leading a total of seven goals last year
But Nigel Pearson will need all of his forwards for Watford to avoid relegation, and Gray will want to prove that it is worth keeping if the club keeps its Premier League status.
The striker is five goals from his record for last season, but the Hornets face several teams close to them in the draw, which could give Gray the chance to start shooting again.
West Ham – Felipe Anderson
The Brazilian was one of West Ham’s best players last season, but struggled to replicate this impressive form during his second season at London stadium.
His goal in the single league is far from his total of nine for the 2018-19 campaign and the Hammers are considering relegation to the Championship.
David Moyes’s team has had a difficult break-in, but there are five very winnable games in which Anderson can make a difference.
Felipe Anderson had trouble reproducing the form he had shown during the 2018-2019 campaign
Anderson also faces rival Jarrod Bowen who scored in his home debut in the 3-1 victory over Southampton.
If the 27-year-old does not shoot, Moyes will have no qualms choosing the £ 20m Bowen ahead of him.
Wolves – Pedro Neto
The winger was impressive in his first Premier League season and appears to have a bright future at Molineux.
Most of his appearances have been replacements, but he had to compete with Adama Traoré and Diogo Jota for a starting spot.
Pedro Neto may have a chance to prove that he can replace Adama Traoré in the long term
But the 20-year-old could play a role in the final games of the season with Traore linked to Liverpool and Barcelona.
Neto can prove that he is the man who will replace the winger if he leaves the club at the end of the season and he should have plenty of opportunities with the Wolves still in the Europa League as well as pursue a place among the four first for next season.