Barclays Premier League Review – December 2014

Premier-League-Christmas-Tree

With no international break to disrupt the Premier League for the first time this season, December had six games in store for all the teams, and the festive fixtures delivered with excitement, goals and drama. Certainly wasn’t a bad way to end 2014 in England’s top division…

The table on December 1st (the arrows are irrelevant)
The table on December 1st (the arrows are irrelevant)
The table on January 1st (before the day's fixtures and the arrows are irrelevant)
The table on January 1st (before the day’s fixtures and the arrows are irrelevant)

What we can see from the table

  • Chelsea’s lead at the top of the Premier League decreased to three, courtesy of their first loss of the season to Newcastle.
  • The rest of the top four is the same, but Manchester United are now third with Southampton fourth.
  • Despite the most games in a month so far this season, the majority of the teams are round about in the same places as they were at the start.
  • Everton only picked up four points but in 12th position, five points from the drop zone.
  • There’s been one change in the bottom three, with Crystal Palace dropping in and QPR climbing out.

Player of the Month

Santi Cazorla – Arsenal

gun__1420229386_santi

Arsenal perhaps had their best month of the season yet, and Santi Cazorla had a big role to play in that. With the likes of Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey and Mikel Arteta all missing games, the Spaniard was a key performer for Arsene Wenger as they secured impressive victories against Newcastle and West Ham and drew with Liverpool. The Spaniard scored four goals last month and also provided an assist at Anfield, putting in a man of the match performance in the impressive 4-1 win over Newcastle, when he hit the back of the net twice. His other goals came against West Ham and Stoke City, and without Cazorla’s goals or assists, the Gunners would only have got 8 out of the 13 points that they did.

2nd – Charlie Austin (QPR)

3rd – Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)

Manager of the Month

Manuel Pellegrini – Manchester City

Manuel_Pellegrini_2637926b

For the second month in a row, Manuel Pellegrini has picked up my best manager award, but there’s no disputing that he deserves it. Manchester City were the only team apart from their neighbours not lose any of their six games in December, and closed the gap on Chelsea to three points by the end of the month. If it wasn’t for a dramatic Burnley comeback in the final game of the year, the reigning champions would have had a 100% record in the league in December, having previously beaten West Brom, Leicester, Crystal Palace, Everton and Sunderland. Pellegrini also had to do without the majority of his strikers for half of the month, and Sergio Aguero’s injury could have made City stutter, but the Chilean boss coped, even playing James Milner upfront on occasions.

2nd – Louis van Gaal (Manchester United)

3rd – Arsene Wenger (Arsenal)

Goal of the Month

Ross Barkley vs QPR

2nd – Christian Benteke vs Manchester United

3rd – Erik Lamela vs Burnley

Others worth mentioning

  • Fernandinho vs Burnley
  • Eden Hazard vs Southampton
  • Ashley Barnes vs Spurs
  • Steven Nzonzi vs Manchester United
  • Santi Cazorla (1st) vs Newcastle
  • Christian Eriksen vs Swansea
  • Gylfi Sigurdsson vs Aston Villa

Game of the Month

QPR 3-2 West Brom

QPRs-Charlie-Austin-score-012

Pellegrini won an award two month’s in a row, and so has a 3-2 QPR victory! After beating Leicester by the scoreline last month, Charlie Austin’s hat-trick helped Queens Park Rangers climb out of the Premier League’s bottom three as they came from 2-0 down to beat West Brom. Joleon Lescott’s header and Silvestre Varela’s low strike, their first Albion goals, put the visitors in charge. However, Austin fired in a penalty after Leroy Fer was pulled back to reduce the deficit at the break. The striker volleyed in from three yards to level and completed his hat-trick with a header from another corner to win it four minutes from time. Read the full report here.

2nd – Liverpool 2-2 Arsenal

Read the full report here.

3rd – Stoke City 3-2 Arsenal

Read the full report here.

Managerial Sackings

warnock-c-palace-neil_3238691

  • Neil Warnock from Crystal Palace (27/09) – replaced by Alan Pardew on January 2nd
  • Alan Irvine from West Brom (29/09) – replaced by Tony Pulis on January 1st

Games to look out for in January

Manchester-City-v-Chelsea-Premier-League

We’ve already had a thoroughly entertaining set of fixtures on New Years’ Day, but what else should we look forward to this month?

  • Manchester United vs Southampton (11/01)
  • Manchester City vs Arsenal (18/01)
  • Chelsea vs Manchester City (31/01)
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