The start of the 2019 footballing calendar has been a thrilling one, with a feast of goals and action on show for fans of the Premier League. Maryam Naz predicts which five players could make the final cut for the league’s first Player of the Month award of the year.
1) Marcus Rashford
The English international leads the charge, with three goals and two Man-of-the-Match performances in January to kick-start his resurgence under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The Norwegian has managed to do what Jose Mourinho couldn’t and unlocked Rashford’s full potential. The 21-year-old has delved into his full range of pace, skill and power. And while goals against Tottenham, Brighton and Newcastle suggest a return to a rich vein of form, Rashford will need to continue to fire on all cylinders if his team are to clinch the last of the Champions League spots.
2) Raul Jiminez
A brace against an in-form West Ham side and a winning goal against Premier League leaders Liverpool in the FA Cup has ensured Raul Jiminez’s place in our January Player of the Month predictions. While the Mexican’s goalscoring ventures may have slipped under the radar against the likes of Mohamed Salah and Harry Kane, three goals and a Man-of-the-Match performance against the Hammers make him one of the deadliest strikers in the Premier League right now.
3) James Ward-Prowse
Quietly coming into his own under Ralph Hasenhuttl’s careful tutelage at Southampton is James Ward-Prowse. The 24-year-old has netted three times in his last three Premier League games, including the goal that secured the Saints a point against an in-form Crystal Palace. Ward-Prowse is known for his ability to deliver pinpoint set pieces but he’s now adding a consistency in front of goal to his game.
4) Alexandre Lacazette
The French striker has been in a rich vein of form for Arsenal with three goals to his name in January. He also picked up an assist in the Gunners’ 3-1 loss to Solskjaer’s soldiers in the FA Cup. In midweek, Lacazette scored the winning goal and claimed a Man of the Match award against Cardiff City at the Emirates. The 27-year-old’s pace and skill has allowed him to link-up well with the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Aaron Ramsey on the counter – a skill needed if Arsenal are to secure a top-four position come the end of the season.
5) Aaron Wan-Bissaka
Don’t let the score lines fool you. Despite his side shipping goals galore in recent games, the 21-year-old has been a defensive rock for Crystal Palace at the back. The Englishman was
unfortunate to be on the losing side when his team faced Liverpool, and his impressive man-marking of Salah and Sadio Mane kept the deadly duo in check for large parts of the game. Equally, Wan-Bissaka had to graft to help aid his side to a hard-fought draw in the Eagles’ midweek clash against Southampton. All in all, Roy Hodgson will need the young English international to continue delivering top-quality defensive performances if Palace are to remain in good form going into the final third of the season.
Follow Maryam on Twitter @MNaz98