Team of 2020 (so far!) – January Premier League Team of The Month – by Dan Dwamena

January Premier League Team Of The Month

January’s football has drawn to a close, so it is time for the first MFF team of the New Year. Some new names stepped up in January, as rotation loomed large again as teams recovered from the hectic Christmas and New Year schedule. As well as that Premier League sides entered the FA Cup. This months team plays to a 3-4-3 formation.

Alisson Becker (Liverpool)

Liverpool’s number one continued his impressive form into the New Year, as he was only beaten once in the Reds five league outings. Alisson now has eight clean sheets for the season, which is the joint best in the Premier League. This is made even more impressive as he missed eight league matches through injury and suspension. He did not have much to do in the first match of the month against Sheffield United, but he was alert late on to save an Oli McBurnie effort. Then away at Spurs he was called into action more than he would like, as Liverpool almost threw away their lead. Liverpool dominated Manchester United at Anfield in their third game, but Alisson had to make saves in the second half as United almost stole an undeserved point. Alisson even produced a rare goalkeeper assist for the second goal by Mo Salah with some quick thinking in injury time.

Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea)

 Despite being Chelsea’s captain, it had looked like Azpilicueta was maybe being slowly phased out of the first xi. With the emergence of right back Reece James, the Spaniard had spent a couple of games on the bench in November. But he bounced back, and as the goals dried up from the Blues’ attacking players he helped out the attack as well as doing his usual job at the back. He grabbed the opening goal in a 1-1 draw away at Brighton on New Years Day. The Spaniard then followed that up with an assist for Callum Hudson-Odoi in a 3-0 triumph over Burnley at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea were beaten away at Newcastle in their next game. They then threw away two leads as they drew at home with Arsenal, where Azpilicueta thought he had scored the winner when he made it 2-1.

Jack Stephens (Southampton)

While Danny Ings has been stealing the headlines for the Saints up front, Jack Stephens has quietly gone about his business at the back. Since losing 9-0 at home to Leicester in October, Southampton have taken 23 points and have climbed to 9th place to end the month, after staring the possibility of relegation in the face. Stephens followed up a goal and an assist in December, by starting January setting up Danny Ings winner against Spurs with a great ball out from the back. Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men won 2-1 away at Leicester, before blowing a 2 goal lead at home to Wolves. They got back to winning ways to conclude the month, as they won 2-0 at Crystal Palace. Stephens was assisting again as he played another fine ball for Nathan Redmond to give the Saints the lead.   

Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)

The Dutchman started the season relatively slowly considering how good he was in the 2018/19 campaign. But now he is been regularly partnered with Joe Gomez, while Joel Matip was out injured, he has been much better at the back as the season has progressed. The Reds have been so dominant in some games that they seemed to sometimes lose a bit of their concentration. Alisson in goal has been on hand when needed however, and van Dijk has not shied away from responsibility helping Liverpool accumulate clean sheets. At the end of the month he is currently joint third in clearances in the league with 117, and he is seventh with 57 headed clearances. The Dutchman scored a header in the 2-0 win over Manchester United. He was at his best against a tricky Wolves side as Liverpool edged a 2-1 win and also in the 2-0 away win at West Ham.

Virgil van Dijk celebrates his goal against Manchester United. Picture from ‘standard.co.uk’.

 

Douglas Luiz (Aston Villa)

A little bit of a surprise inclusion, but whether he has started or not, the man brought from Manchester City in the summer has made an impact. The Brazilian started the month with an assist for Jack Grealish’s goal, which turned out to be the winner away at Burnley in a 2-1 victory. Luiz came off the bench in the 1-1 draw at Brighton to feed Grealish again for the equaliser. In the next match for the Villans, he grabbed the leveller as they came from behind to beat Watford, and this was another contribution from the bench. Despite it not being his primary responsibility, his goal contributions could help Villa stay up, and keep a bit of the pressure off of the captain Grealish. He is a tricky one for FPL players as he is not always guaranteed to start, but your squad may just need him.

Abdoulaye Doucoure (Watford)

The Frenchman has not been able to hit the consistent heights of the 2017/18 season, but when he is good, he is very good. After a little bit of a quiet start to the campaign, he has hit some better form at the right time. Along with Ben Foster and captain Troy Deeney, he is a key player if the Hornets are to stay up. Nigel Pearson seems to be getting the best out of him since he took over as the head coach. Doucoure scored what turned out to be the decisive goal as Watford began the month with a 2-1 win at home to Wolves. Watford made it consecutive league wins when they won 3-0 at Bournemouth, and Doucoure was the man who opened the scoring here. His presence and box-to-box play is making him a handful once again.

Adama Traore (Wolverhampton)

Everyone knew that Traore had talent, but his end product was maligned. However Nuno Espirito Santo must have had a word with him, and he has improved and is more consistent than ever. Traore started the season on the bench, but worked his way into the first xi, and now is one of the main players such is his impact. January saw him help turn Wolves’ third game on its head as they came from behind to beat Southampton 3-2 at St Marys, and he assisted two goals as he was a constant threat from out wide. Despite Wolves ended the month with a 2-1 defeat at home to Liverpool, Traore was arguably the best player on the pitch. He tormented Liverpool for large parts of the game and made their goal for Raul Jimenez with a lovely cross. For fantasy players he is a nicely priced option.

Wolves’ Adama Traore has been a constant threat this season. Image from ‘Getty Images/liverpoolecho.co.uk’.

Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City)  

The Algerian is not always the first name on Pep Guardiola’s team sheet, but he still manages to put up very good numbers. His production has more than been needed by City as winger Leroy Sane has been out injured since the start of the season. Mahrez has racked up an impressive seven goals and seven assists thus far, and four of those goal contributions came in January. He began the month by creating Gabriel Jesus’ second goal as the Citizens won 2-1 at home to Everton. City then destroyed Aston Villa 6-1 at Villa Park and Mahrez was in sparkling form, helping himself to two goals as he tormented Villa’s defence. His first goal was a fine individual effort and he also added a late assist for Sergio Aguero for the Argentine to net his hat trick.

Mo Salah (Liverpool)

Salah’s debut season for Liverpool was so exceptional; that we seem to at times overlook anything else that he does. Alongside Sadio Mane’s greatness he still has a very good output and showed his worth once again to start the calendar year. Liverpool’s January began with a 2-0 win over Sheffield United, and Salah scored the first goal. He almost got an assist with a lovely pass at the end to Mane, but Mane needed two attempts to score the second. The Reds then went and won away at Spurs 1-0, and Salah assisted Roberto Firmino for the winner. The Egyptian was not at his best when Manchester United were beaten 2-0 at Anfield, but still managed to get an injury time goal. Salah concluded the month with a goal from the penalty spot against West Ham, a game in which he also produced a sublime pass with the outside of his for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to seal the three points.

Chris Wood (Burnley)

The New Zealander stepped up in Ashley Barnes’ absence, to give Sean Dyche’s men some much needed breathing space from the relegation zone. Burnley lost at home to Aston Villa to start the month, but Wood got a consolation goal. After another defeat to Chelsea, Wood was the main man as the Clarets ended the month with two wins. First, he got them level against Leicester at home before they went on to win 2-1. They then got a massive three points, as they won 2-0 at Old Trafford against Manchester United. Wood produced a tidy finish to put Burnley in front. He then fed Jay Rodriguez for a stunning goal to secure the win. Wood is a constant problem for defenders with his physicality, and is already in double figures for season.

Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)

Since returning from injury at the end of December, Aguero has picked up from where he left off. He ended January as the second top scorer in the league with 16 goals overall. The Argentine hitman netted the most goals in the month with six. He did not start the first game against Everton, but bagged a hat trick as City ran riot beating Aston Villa 6-1, the first was a fine strike from outside the box. Aguero followed that up with a brace as City were held to a 2-2 at home by Crystal Palace. He was benched for the trip to Sheffield United, but he came on in the second half, to tap in the winning goal after making a smart run to connect on the end of Kevin De Bruyne’s great ball. Regardless of the amount of games he starts, he is a serious threat to top scorer Jamie Vardy if he can stay fit.

@DubulDee

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