December Premier League Team Of The Month – by Dan Dwamena

It is time again for the MFF team of the month. A packed December, saw some teams play as many as seven games, whereas half of the league played six matches. This made it an extremely tough month to select, with there being so many top performers along with the uneven number of games. In another top heavy team, as the concentration is on having players that will accumulate you FPL points, an early spoiler here is that the Premier League’s top scorer somehow did not make it. For this team, essentially two ‘wide’ men have made the side, and there are three strikers. However, four of these men are registered as forwards within FPL. It is therefore time to pick wisely, if you do not have any of these players already, as of course you can only have three forwards in your fantasy football squad.

Alisson Becker (Liverpool)

Despite there has been no issue with Liverpool scoring goals, there were some concerns about their defending, as before December, they had only kept two clean sheets in their opening 14 league outings. However, Liverpool now have kept six clean sheets and boast the league’s best defensive record, having conceded 14 goals, five less than Leicester and Sheffield United. Alisson missed a portion of the early season after injuring his achilles in the first game at home to Norwich, and Adrian deputised. Now the Brazilian is back in goal, the defence is more settled. After conceding two goals against Everton to begin December, the league leaders were not breached for the rest of the month, having four straight shutouts. Alisson’s standout performance was at home to Watford, where he made a plethora of saves to stop the Reds from being embarrassed.

(Alisson spreads himself to deny Gerard Deloufeu, as Liverpool rode their luck in their 2-0 home win over Watford. Image from ‘mirror.co.uk’.)

George Baldock (Sheffield United)

The Blades have the joint second best defence in the league, which is an incredible effort thus far. Manager Chris Wilder has rarely changed his team, which makes it even more impressive. Baldock is one of the wingbacks in the system, and he stood out in the final month of the calendar. United lay 8th in the league, only two points off of Europa League qualification. The first game of December saw them draw 1-1 away at Wolves, and Baldock assisted the opening goal for Lys Mousset. They then bounced back from a home defeat to Newcastle, with a 2-1 win at Norwich. Baldock was the hero in this game, as he set up the equaliser for Enda Stevens, before scoring a wonderful individual goal to clinch the points. The Blades kept two successive clean sheets after that, and then drew 1-1 at home with Watford. Baldock was again in the thick of the action winning a penalty for the leveller.

Adam Webster (Brighton)

Last season under Chris Hughton, Brighton’s centre back pairing was Shane Duffy and Lewis Dunk. Now they are under Graham’s Potter’s tutelage, Webster has worked his way into the starting xi, partnering the club captain Dunk. Webster, who was brought in for just under £20m from Championship side Brentford, has adjusted quite well to life playing at the highest level. He scored the opener, as Brighton shell-shocked Arsenal to start the month with a 2-1 away triumph, which they thoroughly deserved. Later on in the month, he was at it again in North London, as he gave the Seagulls the lead at Tottenham, before they eventually succumbed to a 2-1 setback. Brighton ended the month with a clean sheet as they strolled to a 2-0 win at home to Bournemouth.

Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)

Alexander-Arnold moved into second place in the Premier League in assists in December, after another very good month. Despite playing at right back, he is Liverpool’s playmaker, and relishes the challenge. He assisted three times in the month; the first was a lovely ball through to Sadio Mane against Everton in a 5-2 win. He did not start the trip to Bournemouth, but he produced one of the best individual performances from anyone this season, as the Reds thumped Leicester in their next league match. In the 4-0 rout, the England international assisted two goals and took the corner that led to the penalty for the second goal of the game. Alexander-Arnold capped his superb play with a lovely right-footed drive for the fourth. He is still improving his defensive work, but he gives so much to the team going forward, he has become indispensible for Jurgen Klopp. He was part of a Liverpool defence which kept four clean sheets in their five December games.

(Trent Alexander-Arnold celebrates his fine strike against Leicester. Image from ‘getty Images/metro.co.uk’.)

Jack Grealish (Aston Villa)

Grealish was heavily linked to a move to Tottenham at the start of last season, and unless Villa can somehow stay up, rumours about his future will be floating around once again. Villa’s captain is trying his hardest to keep his club afloat, but he really does need some help. He began December; with a lovely curled effort to open the scoring in a 2-2 draw with Manchester United at Old Trafford. He got what turned out to unfortunately be just a scant consolation, when his deflected shot went in off the post, as Leicester won 4-1 at Villa Park. He scored his third of the month, in another home defeat, as this time Southampton came to the Midlands and picked up a 3-1 win. On Boxing Day, he after a lovely bit of dribbling he assisted Conor Hourihane’s winner, as the Villans got a much needed 1-0 home win over Norwich. Despite Villa only picking up five points in the month, Grealish’s efforts cannot be denied.

Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)

The Belgian midfielder is renowned for his creativity and nous, but he is scoring a good amount of goals now too. The month started slowly for him, but he completely took over City’s tip to Arsenal with an immense display, as they won 3-0. He scored twice and assisted the other goal for Raheem Sterling. De Bruyne was supplying again, as he set up Gabriel Jesus in their next match, as they came from behind to beat Leicester 3-1, in an important battle at the top of the table. In the game following that, 10-man City lost 3-2 to Wolves, Pep Guardiola surprisingly took off De Bruyne with the game at 2-1 to the Citizens. He had already assisted Raheem Sterling’s second goal before he was withdrawn, and City struggled to create without him on the pitch. Against Sheffield United, De Bruyne assisted Sergio Aguero’s opener and then scored himself in a 2-0 victory to end the year.

(Kevin De Bruyne curls in his second goal of a superb double against Arsenal. Image from ‘reuters/bbc.co.uk’.)

Sadio Mane (Liverpool)

Mane continued his great season, with another hefty contribution to Liverpool winning all their five league games in December. The Reds got the month underway with a 5-2 win in the Merseyside derby over Everton, and Mane was in inspired form. He followed up two very good assists, with a beautiful left footed finish to cap a great counter attack just before half time. He was an unused substitute in the win at Bournemouth, but in the following game, a 2-0 win at home to Watford, he provided another assist, this time for Mo Salah to put Liverpool in front. The Senegalese international was creating again, as he laid on the last goal in the 4-0 away win at Leicester for Trent Alexander-Arnold. December concluded with Mane scoring the only goal, as Liverpool scraped a 1-0 win over Wolves at Anfield. Mane now altogether has an impressive 10 goals and 6 assists in the league this campaign.

Marcus Rashford (Manchester United)

The England international is enjoying his best goal scoring league season, as he has hit the net 12 times now, and his previous best was 10. Five of these goals came in December, as he is currently the main reason behind United moving up the table to 5th. Rashford’s first major contribution of the month was a double to see off Spurs at Old Trafford in a massive 2-1 win. United completed back-to-back big 2-1 wins, as they shocked Manchester City in the derby at the Etihad. Rashford opened the scoring from the penalty spot, and could have had a hat-trick, as he put a very good chance well wide, and later on he also hit the woodwork. Against Newcastle, the England international scored a header from a great cross by Aaron Wan-Bassika in a 4-1 success. He ended the month with a late scruffy finish in injury time to see off Burnley 2-0 at Turf Moor, after a swift United counter attack

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal)

Arsenal, are far from where they want to be. Despite only winning once in December, without the Gabonese internationals goals and keeper Bernd Leno’s saves, they would actually be flirting with relegation. Aubameyang’s five goals meant he was the joint top marksman in December in the league, and his importance cannot be snubbed. His 13 goals overall in the league had him in second place, and at December’s end he had scored 50% of the Gunners’ league goals, which was only matched by Danny Ings at Southampton. He began the month with a brace away at Norwich in a 2-2 draw, which included scoring a retaken penalty. He then got the third goal in a 3-1 win at West Ham, as well as earlier assisting the second goal for Nicolas Pepe. He got the equaliser in a 1-1 draw with Bournemouth on Boxing Day, when Arsenal were pretty wasteful. He concluded the month with the opener in a 2-1 home loss to Chelsea.

(A great capture here of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrating his goal in Arsenal’s 3-1 triumph at West Ham. Image from ‘mirror.co.uk’.)

Danny Ings (Southampton)

Ings, scored in every game he started for Southampton in December, and he has scored 8 in his last 10 matches in league. The month commenced with the Saints winning 2-1 at home to Norwich, where he scored the first goal. He next opened the scoring as Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men were beaten 2-1 by Newcastle. He was unlucky in the 1-0 home defeat against West Ham, as he hit the woodwork and also had a great strike disallowed. Just before Christmas he bagged a brace in an impressive 3-1 win away to Aston Villa, the second goal was a tidy left volley on the turn. He did not start the unpredicted 2-0 away win at Chelsea, but returned to salvage a point for Southampton in the home game with Crystal Palace. The lack of help for Ings, and the fact all his goals were from open play have given him his place in the team of the month edging out top scorer Jamie Vardy by a hairsbreadth.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton)

A man who has at times been much maligned, however he seems to be coming of age at just the right time for the Toffees. Calvert-Lewin stepped up in December, first for caretaker-manager Duncan Ferguson, and then for the now permanent man in charge Carlo Ancelotti. The 22-year old scored five goals in the month, to help Everton to 11 points and distance themselves from the relegation zone. He scored twice as Everton put on a great display for Ferguson, as they beat Chelsea 3-1 at home in what was a surprise result. He then concluded the month with all three of Everton’s goals in their first two matches under Ancelotti. Firstly they won 1-0 against a stubborn Burnley side, and he grabbed the winner with a late-headed goal in off the post. He then followed that up with a brace as they won 2-1 against Newcastle at St James Park, taking his seasons tally to a healthy eight.

(Dominic Calvert-Lewin is bang in form at the moment, seen here celebrating his double over Newcastle. Image from ‘uk.reuters.com’.)

Written by @DubulDee

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