Fantasy Focus

January Squad of the Month

February 4, 2009
By Dale Johnson
(Archive)

The Squad of the Month for January is dominated by Manchester United players after their march to the top of the Premier League. A Red Devil is the top performer for each position underlining their belated fantasy qualities.

The Squad of the Month for January
Soccernet / PictureThe Squad of the Month for January

Goalkeeper Edwin Van der Sar, fresh from smashing the Premier League and English football record for clean sheets and time without conceding a goal, is firmly ensconced as the top goalkeeper with an outstanding 30 points for the month. The Dutchman amassed more than double the points of his nearest rival, Aston Villa's Brad Friedel (14).

United also have two of their defenders in the squad. With two goals and five clean sheets Nemanja Vidic is the Defender and overall Player of the Month and, like Van der Sar, scored twice as many points (41) as the second defender in the list. The Serbian international is now clear of Chelsea's Jose Bosingwa as the best defender in the game and is now ranked third overall. It's a rare achievement for a defender to get on the points podium.

Vidic was ahead of team-mate John O'Shea in the Squad of the Month. O'Shea picked up 20 points with four clean sheets and an appearance off the bench. If United had a settled defence - and the fact they do not makes their achievements all the more outstanding - they would have had more than two defenders in the squad.

There's only ever one United midfielder who performs consistently in fantasy circles, a certain Cristiano Ronaldo. And after a bit of a lean spell he's back on form to be named Midfielder of the Month. Three goals and two assists have sent him back to the top of the midfield performers and he is, once again, the overall top points scorer. That £14.1m transfer fee is starting to look like good value once again.

The final man from Old Trafford to make the list is striker Dimitar Berbatov, finally finding form after an inconsistent start. Three goals and two assists for the Bulgarian in January make him the number one striker and he's now moved up to eighth in the strikers' chart.

If Berbatov's form was expected, the same cannot be said for West Ham United's Carlton Cole. Is it a purple patch or, at £6m, is he the current bargain of the game? Prior to the weekend meeting with Arsenal he had scored in his last five Premier League appearances, two of those goals coming in December.

Carlton Cole
GettyImages / MikeHewittCarlton Cole: Can he be relied upon?

Prior to that, Cole hadn't scored for almost three months which underlines the possible pitfall of transferring him in. He is now the tenth best striker in the game, level with Wigan's Amr Zaki. That also shows how Zaki has fallen away since his superb start.

The final striker in the Squad of the Month is Kevin Davies of Bolton in a rare appearance. He makes it into the 15 after three goals in the final two games of the month.

Friedel finds one of his team mates in defence as Curtis Davies slots in. Another defender with a goal to his name, the 23-year-old also notched three clean sheets along the way. And there is also a Villa player in the centre of the park with skipper Gareth Barry getting back into the squad. Barry has come into some form of late and has climbed up to be the sixth best midfielder. Last month he grabbed a goal, an assist and two clean sheet points.

The remaining two defenders also scored goals in January. While the appearance of Wigan Athletic's Maynor Figueroa could have been predicted, the poor form of Manchester City has not prevented Pablo Zabaleta from making the squad.

West Bromwich Albion's upturn in fortunes leads to two of their midfielders popping up behind Ronaldo. Chris Brunt may not be able to hold down a guaranteed starting place but he scored 22 points in January. The left winger scored two goals and got an assist too. Team-mate Robert Koren scored the same number of points.

Completing the 15-man party is Everton's Tim Cahill via his aerial prowess in the box and ability to slot in up front in the midst of the Toffees' injury crisis. The Australian's 20 points came courtesy of two goals against Liverpool and Arsenal.

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