Another month has passed in this unique Premier League season. Changes in form, managerial sackings and a transfer window have shaped a memorable January. Manchester City steamrolled their way to the league summit, taking full advantage of their games in hand.
West Ham won four games in a row to end the month within touching distance of the top four. Whereas Southampton dropped six places after only one win all month. Chelsea, of course, parted company with club legend Frank Lampard after 18 months in charge. Former PSG and Borussia Dortmund coach, Thomas Tuchel, was appointed as his replacement.
Champions Liverpool’s surprising dip in form saw them surrender their grip on the league’s top spot. However, there were promising signs ahead with away wins at Tottenham and West Ham. It was a poor transfer window for struggling Burnley, Fulham and Sheffield United. Reinforcements were a must ahead of January. However, limited incomings may prove fatal come May.
Newcastle’s dreadful run of form provoked anger amongst the Toon faithful. Pleas for manager Steve Bruce’s sacking have become routine occurrences.
With all that in mind, let us take a look at my monthly report for January.
Premier League Team of the Month
Goalkeeper: Nick Pope (Burnley)
Despite Burnley’s mediocre form, Pope has consistently impressed. He made 29 saves, with a save percentage of 82.35% – better than any other keeper in the league. His most notable performance came in a 1-0 win over Liverpool – the Red’s first league defeat at home since April 2017.
Notable mentions: Bernd Leno, Emiliano Martinez
Defender: Matt Targett (Aston Villa)
Aston Villa have continued to impress in the league this season and Matt Targett is a big reason for that. In January, he made the second-most tackles of any player (18) and the joint-second most interceptions (12). Neatly fitted to the Villain’s set up, Targett has undoubtedly shone this month.
Notable mentions: Luke Shaw, Joao Cancelo
Defender: Ruben Dias (Manchester City)
A true no-nonsense defender and seemingly the heir to club legend, Vincent Kompany. Composed, reliable and naturally talented, Dias has been the best centre-back in this season’s Premier League. There is a reason why Manchester City have conceded only one goal in their last eight league games.
Notable mentions: Wesley Fofana, Vladimir Coufal
Defender: John Stones (Manchester City)
Revitalised since Dias’ arrival, Stones now looks the player Manchester City signed back in 2016. As aforementioned, the league leaders have shone defensively, and the Englishman has been a fundamental to that. He has also notched in two goals at the other end.
Notable mentions: Fabinho, Harry Maguire
Midfielder: Paul Pogba (Manchester United)
Has shown glimpses of his 2018 World Cup form this month, after dragging Manchester United to key wins against Burnley and Fulham. Played all across the midfield, we have seen a versatility to his game akin to his time at Juventus. Could we see him finally fulfil his soaring potential?
Notable mentions: Harvey Barnes, Sadio Mané
Midfielder: İlkay Gündoğan (Manchester City)
The German has made up for City’s lack of presence up front. His five goals in January were the most by any player in the Premier League – impressive, considering he is not known for scoring. He has properly established himself as a key figure in Pep Guardiola’s star-laden midfield.
Notable mentions: Jack Grealish, Kevin de Bruyne
Midfielder: Tomáš Souček (West Ham United)
The Czech international has spearheaded West Ham’s rise up the table. A proper box-to-box midfielder, Souček has allowed the Hammer’s to play through the lines quickly. He has won the most headers in the league (27) and has netted three goals to earn key victories over Everton and Crystal Palace. Without doubt, one of the signings of the season and for such a small amount.
Notable mentions: Bruno Fernandes, Eberechi Eze
Midfielder: James Maddison (Leicester City)
A player inspired after recent criticism over his attacking output. By scoring in three consecutive games, he helped Leicester climb up the table, who now sit comfortably in the top four. With Jamie Vardy’s absence, the Foxes’ season could very well hinge on whether Maddison can maintain his excellent form and consequentially get him into Southgate’s EURO squad.
Notable mentions: Phil Foden, Youri Tielemans
Midfielder: Mattheus Pereira (West Bromwich Albion)
The Brazilian has been the Baggies’ main and, at points, only attacking source. Especially under Sam Allardyce’s defensive style of play. Impressively, he scored four goals in January, notably a winning brace at Wolves. If Pereira can continue this run, big clubs could be knocking on the door for his signature in the summer as he looks set to make that step up in his career.
Notable mentions: Mohamed Salah, Ivan Cavaleiro
Forward: Bukayo Saka (Arsenal)
The nineteen-year-old has potentially been Arsenal’s player of the season thus far. His willingness to take on his man and knack for grabbing important goals have created a lethal attacking weapon. Three goals and an assist in four games do not do justice to his true impact on Mikel Arteta’s side.
Notable mentions: Michail Antonio, Raheem Sterling
Forward: Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)
Integral to Tottenham’s success, as shown by the club’s dip in form since his injury. Another impressive month in what has been a quite spectacular season from the England captain. Three goals have helped Jose Mourinho’s Spurs stay in touch with the title challengers but importantly, can they keep it up without their number 10?
Notable mentions: Alexandre Lacazette, Neal Maupay
Premier League Player of the Month
Albeit defensively solid, Manchester City have been as relentless going forward. The German international has been at the centre of that. The gem in January’s best team and, in my opinion, the player of the month.
Notable mentions: Tomáš Souček, Ruben Dias
Premier League Manager of the Month
It is difficult to overlook a perfect month as that is what City have been – perfect, in almost every way. 16 goals scored, 1 conceded – the Spaniard has been the mastermind behind the club’s return to England’s pinnacle. Already with two Premier League titles to his name, Guardiola will be eager to recoup a third back to the Ethiad.
Notable mentions: David Moyes, Ole Gunnar Solskjær