February may be the shortest month of the calendar year but it was absolutely brimming with Premier League encounters. Including Everton’s clash with Southampton on Monday night to round off last month’s final gameweek, a staggering 53 fixtures were played out in February – an average of nearly two per day.
Accordingly, there were some pretty interesting fluctuations as Chelsea and Wolves restored their more traditional form and Fuham conceded just three goals, while Southampton picked up just a single point and Liverpool managed to lose four out of five games.
But away from clubs and onto the individuals. Here’s a look at the six players who impressed us so much last month that they’ve earned nominations for February’s GIVEMESPORT Fans’ Player of the Month award, with all statistics courtesy of Whoscored…
An interesting month for goalkeepers with not a great deal splitting the five who kept at least one clean sheet and made at least 18 saves. Technically, Aston Villa’s Emiliano Martinez came top of the class with three clean sheets and 26 saves, however his otherwise impressive February was disrupted by costly mistakes against West Ham and Leicester.
Fulham loanee Alphonso Areola registered the most clean sheets overall – four – but having averaged less than two saves per game, ultimately the Frenchman didn’t have a great deal of work to do in comparison to some of his Premier League counterparts.
Accordingly, we’ve settled on West Brom’s Sam Johnstone. He made at least four saves in four different February outings – including five in a 1-1 draw against Manchester United – while keeping back-to-back clean sheets versus Burnley and Brighton, all of which has helped the Baggies give themselves half a chance of staying up this season.
Perhaps Fulham deserve some representation in this category too considering they recorded four shutouts in February, with centre-back Joachim Andersen probably being the pick of the bunch. Chelsea’s Cesar Azpilicueta was another worthy candidate – having been pushed down the pecking order under Frank Lampard, the appointment of Thomas Tuchel has quickly reinstated him as probably the best wide centre-back in the Premier League.
Nonetheless, even defenders these days are very much judged on their attacking output and with that in mind, we simply couldn’t look past Manchester United’s Luke Shaw. Four assists in February speaks for itself, even more so for the fact they came across three different games, and the England international’s blossoming partnership with Marcus Rashford down the Red Devils’ left flank has certainly given Gareth Southgate something to think about.
Not that Shaw hasn’t been helping out at the back. United recorded two clean sheets in February and not conceding away at Stamford Bridge certainly isn’t to be sniffed at.
It was another high-octane month for midfielders in the Premier League and in truth, a few were very unlucky to miss out on a place on our shortlist. Wolves star Ruben Neves, for example, found the net three times and topped the midfielder charts for interceptions. Likewise, Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan once again just couldn’t stop scoring after earning a nomination for January’s award, finishing the month with four strikes to his name.
Nonetheless, the numbers speak for themselves and not for the first time this season, one midfielder’s return stands a clear distance above the rest. Manchester United maestro Bruno Fernandes may have got some stick for a quiet game against Chelsea, but his other four February outings produced a stunning return of seven goal involvements – in fact, the Stamford Bridge clash was the only game last month where he didn’t score or assist.
Meanwhile, our final midfield candidates have simply been a joy to watch. The first is West Ham’s January signing Jesse Lingard, who shook off the cobwebs of not even making a Premier League appearance for Manchester United in the first half of the season to grab three goals and one assist in his first five top-flight outings for the Irons.
And then there’s Leeds winger Raphinha. He grabbed two goals and one assist in February while producing the most key passes of any Premier League player, and that return is symptomatic of how the summer signing has steadily got better and better throughout his debut term at Elland Road.
For the second month in a row, the Premier League’s striker clan haven’t given us too much to write home about with the division’s top scoring players in February both being midfielders – Fernandes and Gundogan.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang finished the month with three strikes but all of those came in a single game against Leeds, while Richarlison netted in three consecutive games to finish off February but had started the month pretty anonymously.
Therefore, we’re giving Raheem Sterling our seal of approval. He provided one goal involvement in four different games, including a goal in the 4-1 demolition of Liverpool and the winner against Arsenal.
But more than his own input, this nomination is very much a nod to how imperious Manchester City were in February, winning all of their games by an aggregate scoreline of 15-2. Now that’s domination.