Your Premier League club's most important player of 2016/17

Last season Jamie Vardy, N'Golo Kante and Riyad Mahrez inspired Leicester City to the Premier League title, but who could have a similar effect on your team's fortunes this campaign? Seb Stafford-Bloor explains who could make the difference…

Arsenal - Alexis Sanchez

The more things change, the more they really stay the same. Arsene Wenger's own version of Groundhog Day has run through its umpteenth loop and, again, he will begin the new season without having made a significant addition to his forward line. 

Still, Mesut Ozil will be a reliable source of creativity and Olivier Giroud will plod on as the slightly under-appreciated pivot, but the onus will be on Alexis Sanchez to add some dynamism. With the possible exception of Kevin De Bruyne, there isn't a more versatile attacking-midfielder in the division and Arsenal will need every facet of that diversity if they're to compensate for their now traditional shortcoming.

Alexis Sanchez

Sanchez has a hunger for trophies

Bournemouth - Andrew Surman

Plenty of candidates: Bournemouth are, after all, a product of collective effort rather than individual ability. Simon Francis and Steve Cook will be essential, the returning Callum Wilson will need to score goals, and new arrival Jordon Ibe has a wealth of talent to grow into. Perhaps nobody embodies the principles of Eddie Howe's team more completely than Andrew Surman, though. A tireless worker with strong ball-recovery abilities and a reliable passing-range, Surman was one of 2015/16's no-name heroes. He was hardly mentioned and rarely seemed to feature in any post-game analysis, but he was the understated centrepiece of last year's survival and, alongside Harry Arter, should be central again this time around.

Burnley - Andre Gray

The obdurate Sam Vokes, his regular strike partner, will be more facilitator than prolific goalscorer in the Premier League, so the burden on Gray will likely be even heavier.

Sean Dyche has a small squad, so it's slightly disingenuous to pretend that their season will depend on any one individual. However, given that Gray was one of only two players to reach double figures in the Championship, he will have to at least come close to matching his twenty-three league goals if Burnley are to survive. The obdurate Sam Vokes, his regular strike partner, will be more facilitator than prolific goalscorer in the Premier League, so the burden on Gray will likely be even heavier.

Chelsea - Cesc Fabregas

Fabregas' under-performance last season has been overstated; his Arsenal past and the unsubstantiated rumours about his attitude made him a tempting scapegoat. During Jose Mourinho's final months, he may have performed at a meagre level, but he recovered as well as anyone during Guus Hiddink's interim spell. The Spaniard isn't the most dynamic performer at Stamford Bridge, but the rhythm of his passing and the intent behind his distribution is essential to his side's effectiveness in attacking zones. Eden Hazard, Diego Costa and Oscar all had disappointing seasons, but their fallow form was at least partly attributable to the dearth of proper supply.

Last year's failure demands a response from almost every player now managed by Antonio Conte but, even at this relatively late stage of his career, Fabregas' midfield craft will be a vital part of the recovery.

Crystal Palace - Steve Mandanda

He could help to restore some much needed calm to Palace's penalty box. In a year's time, his free-transfer will likely look to be one of the signings of the summer

Palace had all sorts of goalkeeping issues last season and Alan Pardew moved quickly and smartly to find a remedy: Steve Mandanda is a superb signing. Over the last decade at Marseille he has put together a glittering showreel of saves but, more importantly, he has also grown into a rounded 'keeper and one who, impressive reflexives aside, does the basics of his position extremely well.

Goalkeepers set the mood for everything that happens ahead of them and, if he starts as anticipated, he could help to restore some much needed calm to Palace's penalty box. In a year's time, his free-transfer will likely look to be one of the signings of the summer.

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