Wednesday 29 May 2013
The new year brought a new look to the bottom three of the Barclays Premier League table as promoted side Reading notched two successive wins.
Despite starting the month with a 3-1 defeat by UEFA Champions League hopefuls Tottenham Hotspur, Brian McDermott's side leapt out of the relegation zone in impressive fashion as they overturned a 2-0 deficit in the last eight minutes to beat in-form West Bromwich Albion 3-2, stunned Newcastle United with a 2-1 victory at St James' Park and struck late again to earn a 2-2 home draw against Chelsea.
As a result, McDermott won the Barclays Manager of the Month for the first time and striker Adam Le Fondre - who scored five times in January, including late doubles against Newcastle and Chelsea - won the player of the month. The upturn of fortunes meant the Berkshire club moved above Aston Villa and Wigan Athletic into 17th position.
The other big movers at the bottom of the table were Southampton, who climbed out of the drop zone with a narrow victory over Aston Villa and draws against Arsenal and Chelsea. Such an upturn in form was not enough to prevent a change of manager for Southampton, with former Argentina defender Mauricio Pochettino replacing Nigel Adkins, who was relieved of his duties after the 2-2 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Bottom club Queens Park Rangers also rallied and earned a shock 1-0 victory away to Chelsea.
At the top of the table, the new year had a familiar feel to it as Manchester United remained seven points clear at the Premier League summit. Sir Alex Ferguson's side picked up 10 points out of a possible 12, with a 2-1 victory over Liverpool among the highlights. Their only blemish was when Clint Dempsey scored a late equaliser against them for Tottenham on a snowy afternoon at White Hart Lane.
Andre Villas-Boas' side remained in fourth but January's biggest movers at the top were Everton, who finished the month one point behind the north Londoners in fifth. Everton went unbeaten throughout January. Left-back Leighton Baines scored three times for the Toffees during that period, including a stunning free-kick in their 2-1 win at Newcastle United.
The start of 2013 also coincided with the annual winter transfer window and instant beneficiaries of the January sales were Everton's Merseyside rivals Liverpool, who recruited Chelsea and England forward Daniel Sturridge near the start of the month.
Sturridge linked up with Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez, scoring on his Barclays Premier League debut for Liverpool against Manchester United at Old Trafford. He and Suarez got on the scoresheet as Liverpool routed Norwich City 5-0 at Anfield and they also earned a 2-2 draw against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium. Brendan Rodgers also used the window to bring in Brazilian playmaker Phillippe Coutinho from Inter Milan.
In total there were 50 signings by Barclays Premier League clubs during the window, with Newcastle's top scorer, Demba Ba, moving to Chelsea among the most significant transfers. The Magpies were the joint-busiest top-flight side during the month, with French internationals Mathieu Debuchy, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Moussa Sissoko among six new additions on Tyneside.
Stoke City striker Michael Owen scored his 150th Premier League goal. Since making his debut as a teenager for Liverpool in 1997, the former England forward also netted for Newcastle and Manchester United on his way to the milestone.
Manager of the month: Brian McDermott (Reading)
Player of the month: Adam Le Fondre (Reading)
“I'm buzzing for myself and the rest of the team. I want to keep this scoring run going right through until the end of the season and hopefully we can stay up.”
(Reading forward Adam Le Fondre, who scored five goals as a substitute in January, after winning the Barclays Player of the Month award)
“It gives the opponent someone else to really worry about. Suarez has been incredible for us this season and has had some young players up there with him, but we've now got a recognised goalscorer up beside him. If you look at the movements between the two of them, the second goal was a wonderful demonstration of how good players can link together.”
(Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers hails the strike partnership of new signing Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez after their 5-0 win over Norwich)
“Leighton is a special player and he continues to add something to our team. I see him getting better in lots of ways, his football intelligence and how he can improve his and the team's performances.”
(Everton manager David Moyes praises Leighton Baines after scoring twice in a 2-1 win over West Brom)
For January's results at a glance, click here
|1||Man Utd||20||22||49||Man Utd||24||28||59|
|2||Man City||20||19||42||Man City||24||26||52|