Barclays Premier League Review – February 2016

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In a month when the top four faced each other on the same weekend, February saw that very title race hot up as many fans came to the realisation that Leicester City, in the Championship just two years ago, could actually win the Premier League title. But don’t tell that to Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester City, who are all hot on the Foxes’ heels. It’s so hard to call, and last month, despite being thoroughly entertaining, didn’t give us any idea of which way the trophy is heading…

The table on February 1st
The table on February 1st
The table on March 1st (before the day's fixtures)
The table on March 1st (before the day’s fixtures)

What We Can See From The Table

  • Leicester City retained their place at the top of the table, but the gap between themselves and the chasing pack is down to two points
  • Manchester City lost twice last month and drop to fourth and will stay there even if they lose their game in hand against Newcastle United.
  • Chelsea continued their rise up the table under Guus Hiddink and didn’t lose a game in February to move to 11th.
  • Crystal Palace, Swansea City and Norwich City all failed to win in February, and the Canaries are now only above the relegation zone on goal difference.
  • The bottom three of Newcastle United, Sunderland and Aston Villa remains the same, but the North East rivals are now a lot closer to safety. Villa meanwhile look dead and buried.

Player of the Month

Jamie Vardy – Leicester City

CREDIT: PLUMB IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES
CREDIT: PLUMB IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES

Jamie Vardy went off the boil for a bit after his record breaking goalscoring run before Christmas, but February saw him return to form in style and continue to stake his claim for PFA Player of the Year. The 29 year old began the month with a brace to sink Liverpool 2-0, with the first of his strikes an absolute stunner which went viral and has also won another award in my review (no prizes for guessing which one!). He was then part of the Leicester team that beat title rivals Manchester City 3-1 before winning a penalty and scoring it against fellow challengers Arsenal. Despite the Foxes going on to lose that game 2-1, Vardy ended the month by getting a vital touch on Marc Albrighton’s cross to assist Shinji Okazaki’s winner against Norwich City. The former non-league striker now has 19 league goals this season as Leicester sit top of the league. How long can it last?

After winning my Player of the Month award in October 2015, Vardy becomes the first player to win the accolade twice this season. He is also now the joint most common receiver of the award since it was introduced with Sergio Aguero (3 times).

2nd – Diego Costa (Chelsea)

3rd – Mesut Ozil (Arsenal)

Manager of the Month

Mauricio Pochettino – Tottenham Hotspur

CREDIT: ACTION IMAGES
CREDIT: ACTION IMAGES

The man making Tottenham Hotspur fans dream of a first league title since 1961. The North London side were the only team to have an 100% record in February as Mauricio Pochettino guided them to four wins out of four. They began with a 3-0 win away to Norwich City before beating Watford 1-0. Then came Spurs’ most impressive win of the month as they travelled to the Etihad Stadium and were victorious over title rivals Manchester City 2-1, with Christian Eriksen scoring a late winner. They then rounded off the month by coming from behind to beat Swansea City 2-1. It means that Pochettino’s side end February in second place, just two points behind leaders Leicester City. They have also scored the joint most goals in the league (with the Foxes) and have conceded less goals than anyone else.

2nd – Claudio Ranieri (Leicester City)

3rd – Guus Hiddink (Chelsea)

Goal of the Month

Jamie Vardy vs Liverpool

2nd – Gianelli Imbula vs Bournemouth

3rd – Jesse Lingard vs Chelsea

Game of the Month

Aston Villa 0-6 Liverpool

CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES/MICHAEL STEELE
CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES/MICHAEL STEELE

Daniel Sturridge opened the scoring for Liverpool as the Reds thrashed bottom club Aston Villa to move up to eighth in the Premier League. Sturridge, making his first league start since October, headed home before James Milner’s free-kick crept in after being missed by keeper Mark Bunn. Emre Can rifled in a shot, Divock Origi slotted home and Nathaniel Clyne bundled in to add to the Reds’ lead. Kolo Toure headed in a sixth as Villa were punished for a poor performance. Read the full report here.

2nd – Arsenal 2-1 Leicester City

Read the full report here.

3rd – Liverpool 2-2 Sunderland

Read the full report here.

Managerial Departures

There were no managerial departures in February, but I’m sure we’ll see more towards the end of the season as the relegation battle continues. Louis van Gaal is currently the favourite with the bookies to be the next top flight manager to be sacked.

Games To Look Forward To In March

CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES
CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES
  • Liverpool vs Manchester City (02/03)
  • Tottenham Hotspur vs Arsenal (05/03)
  • Newcastle United vs Sunderland (20/03)
  • Manchester City vs Manchester United (20/03)
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