Arsenal to Wolves: What we miss most about the Premier League

The world is still navigating the impact of the coronavirus crisis and with no firm date yet when soccer might return, we asked Nick Miller to round up the little things we miss about every team in the English Premier League. Even Liverpool.

Arsenal: Alexandre Lacazette's rocket right foot

We can easily get drowned in the complexities of football, whether that's the intricacies of tactics, finance, increasingly tricky moral questions and so on. Sometimes it's good to just boil everything down to the basics, like kicking a ball really, really hard. Lacazette is sensational at that, putting his foot through that leather to send it flying forward at a fierce pace.

Aston Villa: Jack Grealish's socks

There are better footballers in the Premier League, but there aren't too many more enjoyable to watch than Grealish, a lithe joy of a playmaker who is technically brilliant but sometimes plays as if he's doing it for free, just for the pleasure of being a footballer. Hair flapping, socks down ... man, we'd like to see him again soon.

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Bournemouth: Jefferson Lerma's disciplinary record

One of the consequences of the stoppage is that Lerma's steady advance toward the Premier League bookings record was curtailed. The feisty Colombia international was on nine yellow cards when the season stopped, with the top mark of 14 (held by eight different players) tantalisingly in his sights. As well as being a good player, Lerma provides entertainment by allowing us to wonder exactly how and why he's going to get booked next.

Brighton: "Sussex by the Sea"

At some point over the past few years, there was a meeting that concluded teams' entrances onto the pitch needed to be jazzed up. Podia spouting fire, elaborate light shows, portentous poetry, doomy and dramatic music: it often feels a bit much and a sign that football takes itself too seriously. Before matches at Brighton however, they play an old brass band song called "Sussex by the Sea," apparently written in 1907 and adopted as the county's unofficial anthem. It's such an anachronism in these overwrought times and lifts the soul every time you hear it.

Burnley: Dwight McNeil's left foot

It's impossible to be truly underrated in the Premier League these days, but the player that seems to be closest to that description is McNeil, one of the most aesthetically pleasing regulars in the division. The balls he can whip over with his left foot, from wide, deep, close or far, are beautiful to watch, and by the looks of things, a genuine pain to defend against. He's a different kind of winger to many these days, but that somehow makes him even more special.

Chelsea: The rebirth of Olivier Giroud

If all had gone to plan, Giroud would have left Chelsea in January. He wanted to go, and the club didn't want him to stay; all that held up a move was Inter's procrastination. In the end, it all fell through, and he was staring down the barrel of another six months of inactivity. But Tammy Abraham's injury and Michy Batshuayi's incompetence opened the door, and Giroud was able to show the world what a terrific player he remains. He has even thrown in a few goals to go with the usual "Giroudness," a pleasant bonus from a player we might not appreciate until he's gone.

Crystal Palace: Roy Hodgson's ludicrous consistency

There isn't much you can rely on in this world, but Hodgson's win percentage is one thing: with Blackburn it was 35%, Fulham 34%, Liverpool 35%, West Brom 36% and overall with Crystal Palace it has been 36%. This season? A tidy 34%. We need stability more than ever at the moment and with "Uncle Roy," that's exactly what you'll get.

Everton: Andre Gomes

It was mentioned a lot after the Portuguese midfielder returned from his grotesque injury a few weeks ago, but it remains absurd that someone could recover from having his ankle at a right-angle in just 112 days. Gomes seems like a thoroughly likeable guy too, so to watch him return -- and immediately look like an adult playing among boys in Everton's midfield -- was a joy.

Leicester City: Ricardo Pereira, right-back playmaker

It's not often you see right-backs dictate the pace of games: some are entertaining, some are skilful, some are brilliant in attack and some are sensational at crossing, but very few can operate as playmaker from the right side of defence. Pereira does, though, and he has been one of the key reasons for Leicester's success this season.

Liverpool: Georginio Wijnaldum's smile

You could pick any number of things we're missing about Liverpool, given how they were charging toward a sensational title win and are in the conversation for the best Premier League team of all time. But Wijnaldum's great big lovely smile is just the sort of thing that would cheer us up when it's needed most.

Manchester City: The Champions League

We're obviously missing the Champions League in general, but if you believe in anything like fate or destiny, it was inevitable that Manchester City were going to win the thing this season. Having been banned from next season (possibly) and very unhappy about it too, there would have been some sort of poetic irony in them lifting the trophy in May. And then, quite possibly, all turning around and raising their collective middle fingers to the watching UEFA suits.

Manchester United: The Odion Ighalo story

He was a panic buy, and if he goes on to score a hat trick in every game he'll still be a panic buy, but the idea of Ighalo, plucked from footballing obscurity in China to play for the club he supported as a boy, was genuinely heartwarming. He was delighted just to put on the shirt, and after a couple of Europa League goals, we were looking forward to seeing how wide his smile would've been if he'd notched in the Premier League.

Newcastle United: Allan Saint-Maximin

Do we really need to explain why? The ultimate in chaotically entertaining footballers, Saint-Maximin most certainly falls into the category of "he doesn't know what he's going to do next, so we certainly don't know." And while that might be frustrating if you're his teammate, it's brilliant for neutral observers looking for some entertainment.

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Norwich City: Norwich City

Admittedly, this is a little vague, but we just miss the idea of Norwich City. They're bottom of the Premier League, but don't appear massively sad about it. In fact, they seem pretty happy to be in the top flight in the nicest way possible, and they continue to play lovely football with youngsters like Todd Cantwell and Max Aarons flourishing. There's an innocence to Norwich that is quite appealing, almost lacking the cynicism that runs through the rest of the division. Teemu Pukki and co are going down, but they realise it's not the end of the world.

Sheffield United: David McGoldrick's hunt for a goal

He was just returning to the first team after a spell out with injury, which meant McGoldrick's solemn hunt for a goal this season for Sheffield United had recommenced. Apparently one of the most popular members of their squad and one of their best players this season, McGoldrick had yet to score in the Premier League when the season was stopped, but he was still trying. Boy, was he trying.

Southampton: James Ward-Prowse's free-kicks

It's a bit tricky to work out exactly how good Ward-Prowse is: underappreciated creator or at a bottom-half team for a reason? One thing that is unambiguously impressive about the Southampton midfielder are his free kicks: Only Matt Le Tissier has more goals from dead balls for the Saints in the Premier League, and it's always a moment that raises the spirit when he lines one up. You just think "something might happen here," and really, that's all we need.

Tottenham Hotspur: Jose Mourinho

Oh how we miss the Special One. We miss his surly attitude, his fervent wish that the season was over (which has come chillingly close to coming true), his constant complaining, his insistence that he can't play normal football with a team full of internationals. Mercy me. This really is serious. Please come back, football, so we can cast out these demon thoughts.

Watford: Nigel Pearson's stare

There have been a few reasons credited for Watford's revival under Pearson, from him simplifying their game to, according to Troy Deeney, treating the players "like men," but surely one of the reasons is his stare. A terrifying, but also motivating stare. If he looked at you the way he does, eyes burrowing into your soul and searching out any weakness you might have, wouldn't you start winning some games too?

West Ham United: The progression of Jarrod Bowen

David Moyes was (perhaps rightly) cautious of throwing Bowen into the West Ham first team after his move from Hull on deadline day, but when he did start a game, he made an instant impact, scoring and generally energising the team as they beat Southampton 3-1. He's a terrific talent, and it's a shame we haven't been able to see him develop more.

Wolverhampton Wanderers: Adama Traore

We miss Traore on any days he's not playing football. So when he's potentially not playing football for months ... oh lord, we pine heavily. The pace, the increasing technical awareness, the thighs, the absolute insistence that he doesn't lift weights -- come back, Adama.