Assessing the six Premier League Player of the Month candidates

Alvaro Negredo MCFC

Manchester City trio Alvaro Negredo, Yaya Toure and Vincent Kompany are in the running, while Luis Suarez, Ross Barkley and Theo Walcott complete the list.

Manchester City lead the way in the Premier League Player of the Month nominations, after Alvaro Negredo, Yaya Toure and Vincent Kompany were listed for their achievements in December.

The last month of 2013 was a fruitful one for Manuel Pellegrini's side, who won eight out of nine in all competitions, scoring 23 goals in the process.

Theo Walcott, whose season was cruelly cut short after a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament, Ross Barkley and Liverpool goalscoring sensation Luis Suarez complete the six-man list.

We digest how each of the nominees fared over December...

Alvaro Negredo

The Spanish striker netted three times to help his side keep the heat on Arsenal at the top of the Premier League. 

Despite worries from City supporters that their title challenge could falter slightly without star man Sergio Aguero at the fulcrum of the attack, but Negredo stepped to the plate alongside Edin Dzeko to score goals against Swansea, Arsenal and the winning strike in the 2-1 win over Liverpool.

His assist for James Milner's goal to see off Fulham was sumptuous, as he curled the ball around the Cottagers' defence with the outside of his foot.

Yaya Toure

The dominant midfield force was at his imperious best as City steamrollered their way into 2014. The Ivory Coast international scored four times during December, including an exquisite free-kick in the 4-2 win at Fulham.

Toure grabbed an assist against Swansea with a magnificent pass for Samir Nasri's first and also underlined his credentials from set pieces by tucking home penalties against West Brom - adding to his first - and Arsenal respectively. 

Vincent Kompany

Even City's captain got in on the goalscoring trail with two goals of his own in December, while his return has most certainly coincided with an upturn in form defensively, particularly on the road.

Pellegrini's side only kept two clean sheets but secured two vital away wins at Fulham and West Brom, coupled with a creditable point at Southampton, even if Kompany was turned too easily for the equaliser.

The 27-year-old scored at both ends at Craven Cottage before a trademark bullet header in the success over Liverpool.

Theo Walcott

His season came to a premature end after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in the 2-0 FA Cup victory over rivals Tottenham, but Walcott enjoyed a productive month prior to his setback.

In one of his first appearances after an early-season injury, Walcott stepped off the bench to set up Mesut Özil's opener in the 1-1 draw against Everton.

The German returned the favour to tee up Walcott for his first of a brace at Manchester City and the England international followed that up with another double in the 3-1 comeback at West Ham.

Walcott capped off a tremendous return to the first-team fold by setting up Olivier Giroud's crucial winner at Newcastle.

Ross Barkley

Barkley is perhaps the surprise candidate on the list, but his performances in the Toffees' three consecutive away games displayed a maturity beyond his tender years, as he helped earn seven points for his side.

Barkley outshone former Everton man Marouane Fellaini in the Belgian's only December appearance as he showed David Moyes which Toffee he should have taken with him to Old Trafford before dominating at the Emirates in the impressive 1-1 draw with league leaders Arsenal.

But the Liverpool-born midfielder saved his best for last as he tore into Swansea and sealed a hard-fought 2-1 win for his side with an outstanding free-kick.

Luis Suarez

The undisputed favourite for the award, Suarez scored an astonishing 10 goals last month to help keep Liverpool in Champions League contention.

The Uruguayan started the month in disappointing fashion as he failed to fire in the 3-1 loss at Hull City but when he did fire, he did so on all cylinders, as poor Norwich City will attest.

The Reds' talisman struck four times against the Canaries, with three unbelievable finishes. The other was hardly shabby and he even laid on an assist for Raheem Sterling to complete a 5-1 win.

He followed that up with a brace against a beleaguered West Ham outfit in a 4-1 win before putting Tottenham to the sword with two goals and assists apiece in the 5-0 mauling of Tottenham which cost Andre Villas-Boas his job.

But he wasn't about to stop there. Cardiff felt the full force of the 26-year-old, as he scored two more before teeing up Sterling again.

Despite a man-of-the-match display at Manchester City, he could not stop his side going down 2-1 despite laying the ball on a plate for Sterling to net an equaliser. The only real slight on an incredible month was his display at Chelsea, where he failed to show up. That said, he still had a hand in his side's solitary goal.

A remarkable goalscoring rampage from Suarez means the award surely belongs to him.

Who do you think should win the Premier League Player of the Month award?

images: © dannymol, © Leon Queeley

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