The Premier League has ushered in the new year in typically scintillating fashion. Alongside an intriguing if not exactly jaw-dropping transfer window, the games came thick and fast in the first month of 2019 – starting off with a thrilling top-of-the-table clash between Liverpool and Manchester City.
Elsewhere, the race for seventh has really hotted up, while the Champions League qualification battle continues to rumble on. Away from the teams and onto the individuals though, here’s a look at the six players who impressed enough throughout January to earn nominations for the PFA Bristol Street Motors Fans’ Player of the Month award…
David De Gea’s form has come into question at times this season but the Spaniard has performed much closer to his usual impeccably high standards since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took the helm. January saw Manchester United go undefeated and their No.1 played an important part in that with two clean sheets, one of which hinged on him making a season-record eleven saves against Tottenham at Wembley.
Watford are well in the mix for seventh place and after going goalless from mid-September to mid-December, captain Troy Deeney is really starting to pull his weight again – an incredible performance against Bournemouth seeing him bag two goals and one assist. Even when he’s not scoring or supplying though, the old-school front-man is always contributing; he was first for aerial duels won and second for key passes in the Premier League throughout January.
It’s Paul Pogba’s second nomination in consecutive months, but that hardly comes as a surprise. The Frenchman has been a player reborn under Solskjaer’s leadership, with an incredible six goals and four assists in the Premier League since the Norwegian was named United’s interim manager. Three of those goal contributions came in January as the Red Devils fell just two points short of a perfect start to 2019.
Another beneficiary of United’s change of the managerial guard. Trusted to lead the line rather than simply support it, Marcus Rashford notched up three goals in four appearances throughout January, only failing to score in the 2-2 draw with Burnley. The 21-year-old is going from strength to strength under Solskjaer, seemingly growing in confidence by the game – which is great news for both the Red Devils and England.
We’ve become almost desensitised to Mohamed Salah’s excellence, such has been the relentlessness of the Egyptian international’s demolitions of Premier League defences since he moved to Anfield. January was another potent month for Liverpool’s talismanic attacker, albeit ending with a blank drawn against Leicester City. Overall though, three goals in four outings is a typically formidable contribution to the Reds’ title bid.
No Premier League star played a direct hand in more top flight goals than Leroy Sane last month, who scored two and assisted two in four outings. In fact, City’s shock defeat to Newcastle in midweek was the only occasion throughout January in which the Germany international failed to contribute to a goal, having previously scored and assisted against Huddersfield, supplied versus Wolves and netted the all-important winner in City’s victory over title rivals Liverpool.