English Premier League Team of the Month December 2016

In the month of December we saw Chelsea continue their amazing unbeaten run and extend it to thirteen games to tie the record previously set by Arsenal’s “Invincibles”, saw two managerial sackings and through all of Chelsea’s success it went a little bit unnoticed that Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United also finished the month with an astonishing 5 wins from 6. Through all the entertainment, massive victories and triumphant teams these were the best eleven players for the month of December in the 2016-17 Premier League.

Goalkeeper: Darren Randolph

darren-randolph-save-vs-leicester-city
Team of the Week Appearances: 1
6 appearances, 2 clean sheets, 18 saves, 2 saves per goal conceded, 100% crosses claimed

Darren Randolph has been brilliant this month and has been a crucial part of Slavan Bilic and West Ham’s resurgence in form. The Irish goalkeeper has always had to play second fiddle to Spanish goalkeeper Adrian throughout his time at West Ham but since breaking into the starting 11 towards the end of November he has been one of the Hammers’ best players. With 2 clean sheets, 18 saves and 100% of crosses claimed, December was a very good month for Randolph and one that probably solidified his place in the XI for the rest of the season. After a dreadful defeat to Arsenal at the start of the month, West Ham went four games unbeaten and Randolph was a massive part of it. The Republic of Ireland goalkeeper is now slowly building his reputation as a very good goalkeeper and could soon establish himself as his national side’s long-term number one. Rating: 8/10.

Right Back: Kyle Walker

kyle-walker-2-1-burnley
Team of the Week Appearances: 1
5 appearances, 2 assists, 14 chances created, 100% shot accuracy, 15 tackles, 25 clearances

Kyle Walker is probably the best right back in the league at the moment and had a brilliant month as Tottenham Hotspur won five games out of six. Walker has been immense this month in all areas of the game and just coud not be stopped. The British fullback assisted two goals in his five matches while also creating 14 chances in the process to which only Christian Eriksen had more. He also had 100% shot accuracy and completed 8 take-on’s. But he was also very significant to Spurs’ continued sturdy defense as he made 15 tackles and 25 clearances to help Tottenham keep two clean sheets. There probably isn’t anyone better than Kyle Walker at right back in the league and the English defender is just so crucial to all the success that Tottenham have had in the last few years including in this very fine month of December. Rating: 8.5/10.

Centre Back: Steve Cook 

steve-cook-bou-vs-leicester
Team of the Week Appearances: 2
6 appearances, 1 goal, 73 clearances, 15 interceptions, 28 headed duels won, 247 passes

Steve Cook has committed just five fouls the entire season despite every single minute for AFC Bournemouth so far. It’s just been that kind of sesaon for him and the defender was superb once again in December, picking up two team of the week appearances on his way to helping the Cherries to three wins. Cook was absolutely integral to Bournemouth’s stunning 4-3 victory over Liverpool with his goal and last-minute shot that was fumbled by Loris Karius and converted by Nathan Ake and then was magnificent in defense against Leicester helping his side claim a 1-0 victory. All and all in December, Cook made a total of 73 clearances, more than any other player in the league. He also added 15 interceptions, 28 headed duels won and 4 blocks to help his side claim those three victories. It was a fantastic month for Steve Cook and even though the Cherries lost as many games as they won, he was still absolutely on top of his game every single match. Rating: 9/10.

Left Back: Danny Rose

danny-rose-vs-southampton
Team of the Week Appearances: 2
6 appearances, 1 goal, 2 assists, 12 chances created, 13 tackles, 10 interceptions, 204 passes

As amazing as Kyle Walker has been for Spurs at right back, Danny Rose has been equally amazing for Pochettino’s side at left-back. Really ever since Pochettino’s arrival at the club the 26-year old defender has slowly built a reputation as one of the league’s best defenders and is now slowly starting to build a reputation as one of the best left-backs in the world. Rose was superb for Spurs in December, playing all 6 matches and scoring a goal with 2 assists as Tottenham went on a massive winning run. With 13 tackles, 13 clearances and 10 interceptions Rose was also solid in defense and was never caught out of position at all. The defender also completed 204 passes and forced 16 fouls, acting as one of Spurs’ best players in their very successful month of football. Danny Rose is one of the best left-backs in the league, maybe even the world now and with his performances in December it would be very hard to argue with that. Rating: 9/10.

Defensive Midfield: Paul Pogba 

pogba-and-mkhitaryan
Team of the Week Appearances: 3
6 appearances, 2 goals, 2 assists, 350 passes, 19 take-on’s, 13 clearances

Paul Pogba was in stunning form in December, fulfilling his true promise and really coming into his own in a Manchester United shirt. No player had more Team of the Week appearances in December than Pogba’s 3 as he helped Manchester United win 5 out of 6 matches and remain the only other team other than Chelsea to go unbeaten in the month. Pogba was magnificent in helping United dominate possession and dictated the tempo of every single match they played in from midfield. The Manchester United man made 350 passes, the 5th most in the league and also created 13 chances, 2 of which found teammates for goals. The Frenchman also scored 2 goals of his own including one stunning game winning header against Middlesbrough. He even had a massive role to play in defense, winning 17 duels in the air, making 13 clearances and making 10 interceptions. Paul Pogba had a massive month for Manchester United and was their key man as they won 5 games from 6. Now the 23-year old French midfielder should be able to go on and lead Manchester United as they chase down top title contenders Chelsea. Rating: 10/10.

Right Wing: Christian Eriksen

Tottenham's Christian Eriksen
Team of the Week Appearances: 2
6 appearances, 4 goals, 2 assists, 25 chances created, 301 passes

Christian Eriksen started off the season very slowly but he is now in the form of his life and had an incredible time in December to help Tottenham to five wins. Eriksen scored 4 goals with 2 assists in 6 matches this month, starring in every single match Tottenham played in. He also created 25 chances, the most in the league and ten more than Mesut Ozil. Meanwhile the 301 passes he made was only surpassed by Victor Wanyama among Spurs players, helping Pochettino’s side dominate possession. With his form in December, Christian Eriksen is really beginning to fulfill the potential that was once promised of him when he first joined Pochettino’s men and is now looking likely to lead Tottenham towards the top four. Rating: 10/10.

Attacking Midfield: Dele Alli

dele-alli-goals-vs-watford
Team of the Week Appearances: 3
6 appearances, 5 goals, 8 chances created, 78% pass accuracy, 147 passes

Dele Alli was pretty inconsistent to start this season but has had an awesome month and has regained his top form. In 6 matches this month, Dele Alli made 3 consecutive Team of the Week Appearances to tie with Pogba for most this month as he helped Spurs win five matches. His form in front of goal was particularly spectacular, scoring 5 goals in 6 matches to help Tottenham cruise to several victories. Alli may not have assisted any goals but he did create 8 chances and was always involved in Tottenham’s attacking play. Five goals in six matches is just incredible and he’s also just the second player this season to make three team of the week appearances in a row. Dele Alli had a stunning month with Tottenham Hotspur and is definitely back to his best again. Rating: 9.5/10.

Left Wing: Eden Hazard

Chelsea v AFC Bournemouth - Premier League
Team of the Week Appearances: 1
5 appearances, 2 goals, 1 assist, 33 dribbles, 12 chances created

It’s probably no surprise that Eden Hazard makes this month’s Team of the Month as he could probably make it on successful dribbles alone. With 2 goals and 1 assist in 5 appearances this month it wasn’t Hazard’s best ever but it was still a magnificent month for him as he helped Chelsea to five wins from five appearances. His tally of 33 dribbles was unsurprisingly more than any other player this month while he also managed to create 12 chances and was always incredibly involved in Chelsea’s attacking play. Antonio Conte right now looks to be leading his side to glory and Eden Hazard has been absolutely integral to the Blues’ amazing start to the season. Rating: 9/10.

Striker: Alexis Sanchez

alexis-sanchez-vs-whu
Team of the Week Appearances: 1
6 appearances, 4 goals, 3 assists, 21 chances created, 15 successful take-on’s

Alexis Sanchez started off the month magnificently well with a four goal performance against West Ham and then found himself in good form the rest of the month without making as incredible of an impact especially after moving back to left wing. That incredible four goal, one assist performance against the Hammers secured Arsenal a massive 5-1 win and was by far his best game of the season so far. But he was also more than decent after that, assisting 3 more goals in the next five matches. He has been by far Arsenal’s best player this season and without him they’d probably be nowhere near the top four. Since moving back to left wing he hasn’t been able to make the same impact but it was always going to be difficult to get Giroud and the Chilean in the team at the same time and with the Frenchman in such good form as well, Sanchez’s return to the wing was always inevitable. But with 4 goals and 3 assists in 6 matches for Arsenal this month, it was another fantastic month for Chilean and he earns himself a third Team of the Month appearance. Rating: 9/10.

Centre Forward: Zlatan Ibrahimovic 

zlatan-ibrahimovic-vs-sunderland
Team of the Week Appearances: 3
6 appearances, 5 goals, 3 assists, 11 chances created, 16 duels won in the air, 9 clearances

Zlatan Ibrahimovic might have just been the best player of all this month as he led Manchester United to five wins and one draw from their six matches in December. Like Dele Alli and Paul Pogba, Zlatan made 3 team of the week appearances this month as he was arguably United’s best player. The Swedish striker is really coming into his own in a Manchester United shirt and is doing incredibly well to continue scoring goals despite being 35 years old now. Ibrahimovic netted 5 goals with 3 assists in 6 appearances this season helping United to some impressive results along the way. He also created 11 chances, had 71% of his shots on target, won 16 duels in the air and helped out in defense with 9 clearances. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is just so integral to Manchester United and it is amazing that he is making this big of an impact despite the fact that most other 35 year old footballers would have been done long, long ago. Rating: 10/10.

Left Striker: Harry Kane

harry-kane-goal-vs-swansea
Team of the Week Appearances: 2
6 appearances, 5 goals, 1 assist, 12 chances created, 5 clearances.

Harry Kane has had a remarkably good month of action in December. When he is in top gear, Tottenham Hotspur win matches and so it is no surprise at all that Tottenham have won five out of their six matches this month. Kane bagged 5 goals in 6 appearances this month, adding one assist from 12 chances created. He also linked up with Eriksen and Alli wonderfully well and was always willing to track back and defend. Because of his incredible run of form in front of goal, Harry Kane knocks the league’s leading goal scorer Diego Costa to the bench. Rating: 9.5/10.

Formation: 3-4-3 

team-of-the-month-december

Substitutes: Thibaut Courtois, Cesar Azpilicueta, Winton Reid, Nathan Ake, James Milner, Diego Costa, Andy Carroll

It was very difficult to leave Cesar Azpilicueta out this month as he was absolutely superb for Chelsea and made more team of the week appearances than Hazard, Walker and Sanchez. The Spanish defender was instrumental to Chelsea keeping 4 clean sheets from 6 matches and he wasn’t bad going the other way, creating 5 chances, more than any other centre back has created in a single month this season. James Milner meanwhile was brilliant for Liverpool while still playing out of position as he made 3 team of the week appearances from the six matches. Ultimately though, Danny Rose did enough to steal that spot away. Nathan Ake was also in fine form for Bournemouth as he solidfied his place in the Cherries’ XI with a string of impressive matches and the game winning goal against Liverpool. Winston Reid played well for West Ham in their resurgence in form and made 69 clearances, the second most behind only Steve Cook in December. Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois kept our clean sheets from six matches but wasn’t tested quite as much as a few others while Diego Costa continued his fine form in front of goal, scoring 4 times with 1 assist in 5 matches this time around. Andy Carroll is the last substitute as he was the primary factor in West Ham’s December turnaround, scoring 2 goals and winning 53 duels in the air to help the Hammers to three wins and a draw this month. Ultimately though these seven players could not do enough to break into the starting 11.

Player of the Month: Zlatan Ibrahimovic

zlatan-ibrahimovic-2-0-wba

Zlatan Ibrahimovic was just so influential to Manchester United’s marvelous run of form. The Swede scored 5 goals with 3 assists in just 6 matches, more goals + assists than any other player this month and enough to lead the Red Devils to several impressive victories. Zlatan Ibrahimovic should not be able to do what he is doing at the age of 35 but somehow continues to be one of the world’s best strikers and is The Mastermind‘s Player of the Month for December!

Runners Up: Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen

Manager of the Month: Slavan Bilic 

slavan-bilic-1-0-hull-city
Manager of the Week Appearances: 2
6 matches, 3 wins, 1 draw, 2 losses, 2 clean sheets, 61 chances created

After earning himself two Manager of the Week Appearances, Slavan Bilic just could not be overlooked as Manager of the Month. The Croatian manager has completely turned things around for West Ham since the start of the month as the club went four games unbeaten after a period when the Croatian looked like he could possibly be set to lose his job The best of those five results came this past Monday against Swansea City where Bilic’s team were so good that it cost Bob Bradley his job. The Hammers were great throughout the month playing classic counter attacking football and playing to their strengths, Dimitri Payet and Andy Carroll. Bringing Carroll back into the side as soon as he could was completely the right call for Slavan to make and has probably been the main reason why the Hammers have been able to recapture their form of last season when they finished in 7th place. It was also smart from the Hammers boss to re-introduce Andre Ayew to the side, the former Swansea player who spent the last three months out injured and the manager was very flexible with his formations, changing between a 3-4-3 to a 4-2-3-1 to suit specific matches. Slavan Bilic has turned things around again for West Ham and although Jose Mourinho, Mauricio Pochettino and Antonio Conte have all enjoyed an incredible amount of success this month it just had to go to the Croatian manager for his ability to turn things around for his club and save himself from getting sacked.

Honourable Mentions: Antonio Conte, Jose Mourinho


So there it is! The Team of the Month for December 2016 in the Premier League! Do you agree? Who do you think should have been in there? Let me know your thoughts below. See you next time.

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