Need help with your FPL team? February Premier League team of the month – by Dan Dwamena
The MFF February team of the month is here! With injuries it was a difficult month to piece together a side, but as usual we give you eleven of the best performers in the Premier League. The February team takes on a 3-5-2 formation, but with no out an out striker it could easily play as a 3-4-3 with a false 9 or also a 3-3-2-2 formation is also feasible.
Alphonse Areola (Fulham)
Alphonse Areola already has quite the CV, and now he has relegation dogfight to add to it. The French international has previously had loans at La Liga’s Villarreal and Real Madrid from Paris Saint Germain, and now he is on a season-loan loan in south west London. It is unlikely he would have seen himself in such circumstances when playing at the highest level in the Champions League, but nonetheless he has not shied from the challenge at hand. He has played every minute for Scott Parker’s men in the league since the second game of the season and he has got better as the campaign has progressed. He kept the most clean sheets of any goalkeeper in February with 4 in 6 games as the Cottagers bid for survival. He made 11 saves in the five games and overall his 84 saves rank 7th of keepers. Areola is also 3rd in punches with 18 showing he can command his box. Areola’s most significant contribution was in the 1-0 win over Sheffield United. Firstly he made a good save with his legs to deny Enda Stevens, he then made a huge challenge on Jayden Bogle to deny an equaliser.
Luke Shaw (Manchester United)
Luke Shaw’s time at Manchester United has been much maligned. Whether it has been his form or his weight which was the case when Jose Mourinho was at the helm, he has been a polarising figure since joining the club in 2014. He is now however enjoying his best season at the club thus far. Not only is he looking more assured defensively (no pun intended), he is also getting into better positions going forward, which is massively helping the team creatively. Four assists embodied Shaw’s improvement driving forward in February. Shaw got two first half assists in the 9-0 thrashing of his old club Southampton to begin proceedings. His free-kick was headed in by Scott McTominay to put United 3-2 ahead in the 3-3 home draw with Everton. His last assist in the month came as Bruno Fernandes expertly finished his cross in the away draw with West Brom. In this form there is no way Gareth Southgate cannot pick him for the Euros.
Ezri Konsa (Aston Villa)
With Tyrone Mings being an England international, Ezri Konsa just quietly goes about his work. It is time now for us to take notice of an ever-improving defender however. Villa overall are a much better team than last season and it starts from the back. Villa have kept 13 clean sheets overall this season, which is only bettered by Manchester City, they do however need to minimise the amount of shots on their goal per game. Konsa has tried his best to be as vigilant as possible as he continues to blossom in what can be called a ‘breakout’ season. He leads the league in blocks with 30. As well as this he is 13th in clearances with 90. Dean Smith’s side ended the month with a 1-0 win at Leeds, and Konsa came up with a huge first half block to deny Raphinha. Then he produced a great late interception on Pablo Hernandez to seal the win giving Villa their third clean sheet in February in five outings.
Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea)
Cesar Azpilicueta just squeezes his teammate Antonio Rudiger out of the team of the month. Under Frank Lampard Azpilicueta was in and out of the team despite being the club’s captain. Since the arrival of German manager Thomas Tuchel in January the Spaniard seems to be a favourite of his. The Blues now play regularly with three centre halves, and he has been operating on the right of the three. Chelsea kept three clean sheets in their five February games as they went unbeaten and his leadership has been key. He is not consistently at the high levels he once was, but his organisation and communication has been evident. Chelsea took 11 points from a possible 15 and now have put themselves in a very favourable position to finish in the top four as Tuchel continues to quickly implement his philosophies.
Ruben Neves (Wolverhampton)
With talisman Raul Jimenez out Wolves have struggled for goals, but Ruben Neves has stepped up since the new year began with five goals, and three of them came in February. Nuno Espirito Santo’s men went unbeaten in their five games in the month as they accumulated 11 points, and Neves did his fair share. He scored a penalty to level things up as they went on to win 2-1 against Arsenal at home. Neves was to dispatch another equalising penalty as Wolves won 2-1 away at Southampton. Wolves were heading for their first defeat of the month when the Portuguese popped up with a rare close range header to gain a point at Newcastle at the end of month. Neves’ tenacity in midfield is crucial to the team and his passing is just as important. Neves is currently 18th in the league in tackles and 23rd in passing, his ball retention is a necessity as Wolves are only 12th in the league as a team in passes completed.
James Maddison (Leicester)
James Maddison edges his teammate Harvey Barnes out of the team this month, but only just. In a recent Sky Sports post-match interview he stated that he heard that Jamie Carragher said that he needs to get his numbers up and that is exactly what he is doing. Maddison is now on 9 Premier League goals, accompanied by 5 assists after getting two of each in February. His month began with two good assists as Leicester won 2-0 at Fulham. A clever ball for Kelechi Iheanacho gave him his first assist and then he produced some fine individual play before laying on James Justin for the second. Maddison scored a vital equaliser from a free-kick as the Foxes came from behind to beat Liverpool 3-1 at the King Power Stadium. He then opened the scoring as Brendan Rodgers’ men got a big 2-1 win at Aston Villa. Keeper Emiliano Martinez could only push his placed effort in off the post. A recurrence of his hip issue has now come at the worst time for them and they will need him back sooner rather than later as they ended the month with a 3-1 home loss to Arsenal in his absence.
Ilkay Gundogan (Manchester City)
Manchester City were meant to slow up with Kevin De Bruyne out injured but Ilkay Gundogan did not let them. The Cityzens won all six of their league games in February to continue their 100% start to the new year and Gundogan continued his purple patch in front of goal. The German international began the month assisting Raheem Sterling as City won 2-0 at Burnley. Then his February scoring started as he copped a brace in the 4-1 beating they dished out to Liverpool at Anfield. That was even after he missed a penalty against Jurgen Klopp’s men. He was at the double again as Pep Guardiola’s men won 3-0 at home to Tottenham. Both goals were well taken, especially the second as he left Davidson Sanchez on the floor after controlling a fantastic ball from his goalkeeper Ederson. As well as the two goals Gundogan also won the penalty that Rodri dispatched for the first goal. With De Bruyne now back fit it gives Guardiola more opportunity to rest the man who has been their star player for the last two months.
Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United)
Bruno Fernandes’ colossal influence on the Red Devils continues. He is now the second top scorer in the Premier league with 15 goals overall and he also has 10 assists to go along with that. United began the month with a 9-0 drubbing of Southampton and Fernandes scored a penalty and assisted twice in the second half. He scored a tremendous to put Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men 2-0 up against Everton before they drew the game 3-3. In a game that turned out to be more problematic than expected he grabbed the equaliser with a great left foot volley to get a point against West Brom. The Portuguese international scored another penalty for the last goal when United triumphed over Newcastle 3-1 at Old Trafford. Before the penalty he was to be credited with an assist for a slight touch on the ball as Daniel James put them 2-1 ahead.
Whatever the score may be at the time, Leeds only play one way. Marcelo Bielsa’s methods sometimes draw criticism, but overall what he has done with mainly a Championship cannot be overlooked. Raphinha came in not too long before the summer transfer window closed and since taking Helder Costa’s place in the starting line-up he seems to be involved with everything positive Leeds do going forward. He is the set pieces taker whilst his dribbling and directness is a joy to watch. The Brazilian began the month with a consolation goal as Everton won 2-1 at Elland Road. He then assisted Pascal Struijk’s goal as they went down 4-2 to Arsenal at the Emirates. His set pieces made numerous chances in the 1-0 defeat at Wolves, but Rui Patricio kept Leeds at bay. He was then the best player on the pitch as Leeds beat Southampton 3-0. He made good chances for Tyler Roberts who shot wide and Diego Llorente who had his shot saved. Raphinha then grabbed the third goal with a lovely free-kick.
Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)
26-year-old Raheem Sterling gets in to the team ahead of his teammate Phil Foden for February in a close call. Sterling’s contribution just seemed to be that bit more crucial, but it really could have gone either way. He scored the second goal from close range to kill off Burnley 2-0 at Turf Moor to start things off. Pep Guardiola’s men then won 4-1 at Liverpool, and Sterling won a penalty that was missed by Ilkay Gundogan. Later on he then went on a mini slalom-like run to find Phil Foden, whose shot was saved by Alisson only for Gundogan to put City ahead. Sterling then got himself on the scoresheet to make it 3-1 with a close range header. Next up, Sterling assisted Gundogan’s first goal as Manchester City beat Spurs 3-0. Sterling’s last contribution was a simple header early on for the only goal to give the Cityzens a 1-0 win over Arsenal at the Emirates.
Jesse Lingard (West Ham)
Jesse Lingard was a forgotten man but West Ham manager David Moyes got him in on loan in January from Manchester United, and so far it looks like a genius move from the Scotsman. Despite sending him out on loan in his brief stint at Old Trafford back in the 2013/14 campaign, Moyes would have had some form of idea of what Lingard could bring to his West Ham team. Lingard repaid the faith shown in him by scoring twice on his debut as the Hammers won 3-1 away at surprise package Aston Villa. Villa keeper Emiliano Martinez in hindsight will feel he should have done better with both efforts, but Lingard’s shots were just too hot to handle. Later on in the month; Lingard was then to get what turned out to be the winning goal as West Ham beat Spurs 2-1. Lingard firing left footed across Hugo Lloris to put West Ham 2-0 up. Lingard rounded the month off with an assist for Michail Antonio as they were edged out 2-1 by Manchester City.