October was another fascinating month in the Premier League, one that saw Crystal Palace pick up their first points of the season, Manchester City score the same number of goals as Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United combined, Leicester and Everton sack their respective managers and the Red Devils draw criticism for pragmatic performances at Anfield and against Tottenham. But away from the teams and onto the individuals; who was the Premier League’s best player last month? That’s what Bristol Street Motors’ Fans’ Player of the Month award is designed to determine, so here’s a rundown of the nominees…
A Fantasy Football manager’s nightmare at the start of the season but Leroy Sane’s October form has made him almost as undroppable as David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne. The German winger featured in every minute of Manchester City’s three Premier League fixtures in October, producing a potent return of one goal and one assist per outing – not least including a sublime finish against West Brom last weekend and the converted touch to a stunning De Bruyne assist against Stoke.
Already mentioned in regards to Leroy Sane, which in itself is a testament of how influential Kevin De Bruyne has been. Indeed, alongside David Silva, the Belgium international has further cemented himself as the beating heart of Pep Guardiola’s rip-roaring Manchester City side in a roaming midfield role that gives him the freedom to play his own game. Statistically speaking, De Bruyne was out-passed by many of his Premier League counter-parts in October and he only created six chances overall. But a return of three assists shows the sheer quality of his set-ups and in truth, the 26-year-old’s impact on a City side that scored 13 goals last month can’t be accurately portrayed by the numbers alone.
Wilfried Zaha may not have matched the potency of some of the other attacking players up for this month’s award, but his nomination stems from how instrumental his contributions have been, scoring the goals to seal Crystal Palace their first four points of the season after a horrendous start to 2017/18 – all the more impressively following a significant injury layoff. Zaha scored the winner against Chelsea as the Premier League’s rock-bottom side sealed a shock 2-1 win over the reigning champions at Selhurst Park and also netted a vital, literally last-second equaliser last weekend as the Eagles completed a two-goal comeback against West Ham. On top of that, only Eden Hazard completed more dribbles than the Ivory Coast international last month.
Arsenal may have only kept one clean sheet in October but Nacho Monreal’s performances, both with and without the ball, have certainly been of note. The wide centre-back role in Arsenal’s 3-4-3 appears to be getting the best out of the ageing full-back and in addition to keeping things relatively sturdy at the back, he made the most passes of any Premier League player last month – 319 in four appearances – while popping up at the other end with two goals in wins over Brighton and Everton. No defender scored more times throughout October.
Many feared the worst for Burnley when Tom Heaton was ruled out with a long-term injury earlier in the season but stand-in Nick Pope has been nothing short of exceptional in his absence. No goalkeeper in the top flight produced more clean sheets than the 25-year-old last month while he was top of the Premier League’s saves charts as well with 20 – seven ahead of second-placed Mat Ryan and Joe Hart – and had it not been for a 3-0 defeat at the Etihad Stadium, Pope would be the joint-leader of the goals conceded column as well. That form played a huge hand in Burnley picking up seven points throughout October, pushing them to the dizzying heights of seventh in the table.
Alexis Sanchez hasn’t quite hit top gear just yet in comparison to recent seasons but October was a productive month for Arsenal’s talismanic forward, notching up one goal and two assists in three appearances. An outing against Everton was particularly special as the Chile international lined up alongside Mesut Ozil and summer signing Alexandre Lacazette for the first time this season; producing one strike, one setup, seven shots, five created chances and five dribbles as the Gunners ripped apart the Toffees in a 5-2 mauling at Goodison Park.