Football: Premier League set to restart and Richard Jolly examines which clubs will get into Europe

Manchester City are almost certain to come second, but could do with Raheem Sterling getting a first goal of 2020. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON - With the title race all but over, Richard Jolly looks at the race for European places and the challenges facing each club from second-placed Manchester City through to Arsenal in ninth. Who will the key player be in each team's run-in and a prediction on where they will likely finish.

Manchester City (Current: 2nd. Predicted: 2nd)

Outlook: It depends on two things: their appeal against their two-year European ban and whether they can win the Champions League. City are almost certain to come second, but could do with Raheem Sterling getting a first goal of 2020. Having Leroy Sane fit again is another boost to make them more potent.

Key Player: Aymeric Laporte - City have not conceded with Laporte on the pitch since August. Injury has destroyed his campaign and disrupted their rearguard, but the crucial centre-back is available again.

Leicester City (Current: 3rd. Predicted: 3rd)

Outlook: Eight points ahead of fifth, they should get Champions League football but a tough last two games mean they need to keep that cushion. They are without their pivotal right-back Ricardo Pereira and could do with Jamie Vardy, who only has two goals since Christmas, scoring more regularly.

Key Player: Wilfred Ndidi - It is no coincidence Leicester's form dipped when their defensive midfielder was injured in January. They have won both times he has started since he returned.

Chelsea (Current: 4th. Predicted: 5th)

Outlook: Healthy, in that Timo Werner arrives in the summer. But worrying: after eight months in the top four, they still have to face four of the top six. They could need the departing Willian and Pedro to make fine final contributions and for Kepa Arrizabalaga to justify his fee.

Key Player: Tammy Abraham - A revelation, but has only scored once in an injury-hit 2020. Needs to produce the right response to Werner's imminent arrival.

Manchester United (Current: 5th. Predicted: 4th)

Outlook: Encouraging. They are unbeaten in 11 in all competitions, conceding only twice, have Marcus Rashford fit again and can pair Paul Pogba with the catalytic Bruno Fernandes. But opening games against Tottenham and Sheffield United will be a barometer if their February form was a false dawn.

Key Player: Paul Pogba - Not played in 2020, not got an assist since August or a goal all season but finally fit again and likely to stay. If motivated, he can give United an extra dimension.

Wolves (Current: 6th. Predicted: 7th)

Outlook: A marathon, 13-month season could yet end in Europa League glory but a small squad may not be suited to a world where teams can make five substitutions. Only Liverpool and Manchester City are harder to beat but a drawing habit could cost them.

Key Player: Adama Traore - A shoulder injury restricted the roadrunner before lockdown and Wolves' goals dried up. Now the winger has had time to recover.

Sheffield United (Current: 7th. Predicted: 9th)

Outlook: Shutdown came at the wrong time for the in-form, overachieving Blades. Now they have to try and regain that momentum. With four games against rivals for fourth, their destiny will be decided in head-to-head clashes. They have six away games, but only two defeats thus far on their travels.

Key Player: Dean Henderson - The goalkeeper has been instrumental in giving United the second best defensive record but is ineligible for next week's clash with his parent club, Manchester United.

Tottenham Hotspur (Current: 8th. Predicted: 8th)

Outlook: Better. Jose Mourinho was willing the season to end when Spurs were miserable in March. Now they have attackers Harry Kane, Son Heung-min and Steven Bergwijn available again. But a tough run-in, especially at home, means they face a battle to salvage anything from a sorry season.

Key Player: Harry Kane - Out of action since New Year's Day but back now. Scored seven goals in 10 games under Mourinho. Something similar could be needed now.

Arsenal (Current: 9th. Predicted: 6th)

Outlook: Unbeaten in 2020 and with a game in hand but a July run of Wolves, Leicester, Tottenham and Liverpool threatens to end any hopes of Champions League football. But Mikel Arteta could further his good start by guiding them back into the Europa League.

Key Player: Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang - Has responded well to Arteta's appointment and has scored from 63 percent of his shots on target. Finishing that deadly could be decisive.

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