As we enter the final month of this is crazy 2015-16 Premier League campaign, the title race is nearly over, but the battle at the bottom is now tighter than ever. That’s thanks in no part to a thoroughly entertaining April, which saw a lot of high-scoring games, incredible goals, whilst we were also treated to some midweek action including a Merseyside derby…
What We Can See From The Table
- Leicester City have extended their gap at the top of the table to seven points, and are now just one win away from a historic Premier League title.
- Tottenham are still not assured of second, and every team down to Liverpool in seventh could make the top four.
- Chelsea lost their first league games under Guus Hiddink, meaning a European spot is now unlikely for the Blues.
- Aston Villa were officially relegated to the Championship after losing all five games in April. They have now been beaten in their last 11 games.
- The battle to avoid who joins them in the second tier next season is going down to the wire. Newcastle have moved out of the bottom three with Norwich dropping in, but the Canaries and Sunderland have a game in hand over the Magpies.
Player of the Month
Sergio Aguero – Manchester City
In a month when the PFA Player of the Season shortlist was announced, Sergio Aguero proved why people were wrong to not include him on it. The Argentine scored seven times in five games in April, the most scored by a single player in any month this campaign. He got on the scoresheet once in Manchester City’s 4-0 thrashing of Bournemouth and in the 2-1 win over West Brom before hitting all three goals in the 3-0 defeat of Chelsea – his second hat-trick of the season. Aguero then scored his 100th Premier League goal in the 1-1 draw against Newcastle, only Alan Shearer (124 games) was quicker to reach a century than the City striker (147 games). To end the month, the 27 year old netted against Stoke to help his side win 4-0. It is the second time this season that Aguero has won my monthly award having also picked it up in January, and it means that going into May, he is only behind Harry Kane in the goalscoring ranks.
2nd – Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool)
3rd – Andy Carroll (West Ham United)
Manager of the Month
Manuel Pellegrini – Manchester City
Since it was announced that Pep Guardiola would be taking over from Manuel Pellegrini at Manchester City in the summer, the Citizens’ form has dropped off slightly. But April saw them finally win back to back league games for the first time since October as their place in next season’s Champions League suddenly became under threat. They in fact achieved three consecutive victories at the start of the month, defeating Bournemouth 4-0, West Brom 2-1 and Chelsea 3-0. A midweek clash against strugglers Newcastle finished 2-2 as City’s gruelling fixture schedule (they’re in the Champions League semi-finals remember) caught up with them, but the month finished on a high with a another thrashing – a 4-0 win against Stoke. That makes 15 goals in five games with just three conceded. Pellegrini, for all his criticisms, becomes the first and only boss this season to pick up my manager of the month award twice, having won it in August too. In fact is his sixth accolade in total, making him the most decorated coach since I started It’s Football Not Soccer.
2nd – Claudio Ranieri (Leicester City)
3rd – Jurgen Klopp (Liverpool)
Goal of the Month
Dimitri Payet vs West Ham United
2nd – Aaron Cresswell vs Leicester City
3rd – Andros Townsend vs Southampton
Game of the Month
West Ham United 3-3 Arsenal
Andy Carroll’s hat-trick dealt another blow to Arsenal’s already slim Premier League title hopes, despite the Gunners fighting back to draw at West Ham. Arsenal are 10 points behind leaders Leicester with six games to play. Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez converted Alex Iwobi passes to put Arsenal 2-0 up but Carroll netted twice in 160 seconds to bring his side level by half-time. A far-post header completed Carroll’s treble, before Laurent Koscielny hooked in the equaliser from 10 yards. It meant the hosts extended their unbeaten home run in the Premier League to 14 games. [Full BBC report]
2nd – Norwich City 3-2 Newcastle United
3rd – Watford 3-2 Aston Villa
There weren’t any managerial changes in April, but I forgot to include Remi Garde’s sacking by Aston Villa at the end of March in my previous monthly review. Eric Black was placed in temporary charge of the now relegated Villains, making him the fourth man to pick the team at Villa Park this season.
Games To Look Forward To In May
As usual, I never include specific games to look forward to in May as there are so many that could play a crucial part in the battle for the title, Europe and to avoid relegation.