The Premier League Top Seven's Key Men
None of the Premier League's current top seven are one-man teams. They all have a fine selection of players, as well as their own weak links.
However, every team has one player, without whom they would struggle. This might not necessarily be their best player or their most talented player, their leader or their hardest worker.
If he was removed from the side, which players would be most difficult to replace? Perhaps a striker who scores most of their goals or a defender who organises the backline or a midfielder through which all their play is directed.
Who is the heartbeat of each of the Premier League's top seven.
Bleacher Report picks the key men from the best teams in the land.
1. Liverpool: Luis Suarez
You could make a case for Martin Skrtel, who has recovered some of his form to be Liverpool's only really reliable defender.
You could argue in favour of Steven Gerrard, playing out his dotage in a deeper midfield role that will probably extend his career.
You could say Jordan Henderson has been a driving force from midfield and proved those of us right who, when his ludicrous price tag was weighing him down, thought there was a player in there somewhere.
You could simply lay out Daniel Sturridge's goal-scoring statistics and make no further comment.
However, any of those arguments would probably just be trying to avoid the obvious—Luis Suarez is—has been from the moment of his arrival and probably will be until he departs—Liverpool's best player and is one of the key reasons why their season has been so surprisingly successful.
He's even managed not to bite anyone this season as well, which is a nice bonus.
2. Manchester City: Sergio Aguero
If this list was being written last season, or really any other season since his arrival in Manchester some six years ago, Vincent Kompany would be the clear choice.
However, while he has been good this term, errors have been scattered in his play, and he has perhaps been lucky to have shared plenty of playing time with the often-hapless Martin Demichelis, who has taken the brunt of most criticism.
A similar idea applies to Yaya Toure, who is unstoppable when in the mood, but he has a tendency to go quiet in some games, and while David Silva and Samir Nasri are both important, if one is absent the other is usually there to pick up the creative slack.
Therefore the choice of City's most important player is clear, Sergio Aguero's remarkable 15 goals in 15 starts presents a reasonably inarguable case.
City's other forward options are Stevan Jovetic, who has been troubled by nagging injuries, Edin Dzeko, who is not really good enough for a title-challenging team, and Alvaro Negredo, whose form has fallen off in recent weeks, not finding the net in the league since January 12.
If City are to reclaim the title, they must hope that Aguero finds his fitness again soon.
3. Chelsea: John Terry
Given how superb Chelsea's trio of creative talents behind whichever least-bad option Jose Mourinho chooses to play up front have generally been this season, you might expect one of them to be their indispensable talent.
However, while Eden Hazard has been brilliant all season and the Brazilian pair of Oscar and Willian a little more sporadically so, Chelsea's title challenge thus far this season has been built on their superb defence.
They have conceded just 24 goals from 32 games, and this was after a slightly shaky start to the campaign defensively, which reached a low point in the 4-3 win over Sunderland and the 3-2 defeat to Stoke just before Christmas.
Since then they have let in a remarkably miserly six goals in 15 games, and much of that has been down to the fine form of John Terry.
An unpalatable character he might be, but one cannot deny how crucial the man revitalised under Mourinho has been to Chelsea's season so far.
4. Arsenal: Laurent Koscielny
Arsenal are arguably currently without their most important players of the season, with both Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey out for worryingly large chunks of the campaign with injuries.
However, Arsene Wenger has able deputies in both of their positions, with the likes of Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mikel Arteta and their underappreciated string-puller, Tomas Rosicky, among those available to keep the midfield ticking over.
An area they have no depth is at centre-back, where the first reserve is Thomas Vermaelen, who hasn't been an entirely reliable option for a couple of seasons.
Per Mertesacker has been largely immense as well as being immensely large this season, but it is his partner in defence, Laurent Koscielny, whom Arsenal could not do without.
The Frenchman is perhaps one of those players you don't quite appreciate unless seen in the flesh, which is perhaps why Arsenal fans rave about him so much, his talent for appearing in exactly the right place often appearing almost preternatural.
When Koscielny makes a mistake, it tends to be a slapstick whopper, but luckily for Gooners everywhere, he has kept those to a minimum this season.
5. Everton: Sylvain Distin
Roberto Martinez's side are a tricky one from which to pick a standout player, because the beauty of their team is that they are greater than the sum of their parts.
Romelu Lukaku has provided goals and strength up front, Gareth Barry keeps things ticking over nicely in midfield, Ross Barkley looks like a star in the making, and in Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines, they have perhaps the best full-back pairing in the division.
However, perhaps their most solidly consistent performer this season, and perhaps most other seasons, has been Sylvain Distin.
Rarely a headline-grabber, Distin simply ensures that things are as they should be at the back for Martinez's side, and given the alternatives to partner Phil Jagielka at the back should anything happen to Distin are either the raw John Stones or the unconvincing Antolin Alcaraz, Everton must praise their holy thing of choice that the Frenchman has stayed fit for most of this term.
6. Tottenham: Hugo Lloris
Spurs are a very tricky side to assess this season, simply because, unlike most of the other teams in the top seven of the Premier League, there are very few players that, if you were to survey 100 people and ask them what Tim Sherwood's best team was, would be in every single one.
Their defenders are either error-prone, injury-prone or both, their midfielders are inconsistent and their strikers are either Emmanuel Adebayor or Roberto Soldado.
However, the first name on their team sheet both literally and figuratively is Hugo Lloris, the keeper-sweeper who has been a model of consistency, as the relative chaos around him reigned, and probably the only Spurs player with a shot of getting into a Premier League XI.
With PSG in the market for a goalie in the summer, Daniel Levy might be spending another summer negotiating a huge transfer fee with a club carrying sacks and sacks of cash.
7. Manchester United: David De Gea
The main inspiration for this list was Robin van Persie, set to miss the bulk of Manchester United's remaining games and thus causing yet more problems for David Moyes in a season of problems.
However, van Persie's fitness and goals record haven't been the same as last season, and his absence might even balance the United side out a little better, should Moyes deploy Wayne Rooney as a centre-forward and Juan Mata in his favoured No. 10 role.
Thus, their most important player is at the other end of the pitch, where perhaps the best young goalkeeper in Europe, along with Thibaut Courtois, resides.
United's season has been bad enough, but where they might be without David de Gea doesn't bear thinking about.
While it was his error that put them out of the League Cup against Sunderland, the Spaniard has kept United in far more games than he has cost them, and Moyes must thank his lucky stars that the one area of his squad that Sir Alex Ferguson didn't leave in something of a mess is between the sticks.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!