The end is in sight. Eight months on from the beginning of a surreal Premier League season that seems to have absolutely flown by, we are now less than three weeks from its conclusion. For some, the season is inevitably starting to wind down, with Manchester City’s title coronation seemingly just around the corner and the relegation battle now very nearly at an end. For others, though, there is still plenty to play for, with the European spots still undecided and mid-table sides still having enough time to leapfrog over each other and finish as high as they possibly can.
In a month filled with entertainment following a disruptive international break, we saw spectacular performances and resurgences in all corners of the league table, with Manchester United, Leeds United and West Bromwich Albion amongst the teams who impressed. As we look back on our penultimate team of the month for this season, amidst the remaining uncertainties, there is one thing we can be sure of when the curtain drops; that this bereft-of-fans season will never ever be forgotten.
Team of the month – Premier League – April 2021
GK: Sam Johnstone (West Bromwich Albion)
West Bromwich Albion began the month with a bang by shredding Chelsea 5-2 away from home, in the first Premier League match after the international break. They then followed this up with one win, one draw and one loss throughout the rest of April, not a bad run of form for a team who seem to be condemned to the drop.
Whilst many Baggies players upped their game, Sam Johnstone simply did a good job of maintaining his. The goalkeeper continued his fine form throughout the month, now sitting top of the Premier League saves table, and even bagged himself an assist against Chelsea.
It’s been a very good debut top flight season for Johnstone; there will surely be a few clubs looking at him when West Brom’s fate is finally sealed.
RB: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)
After enduring a dismal February and March, Liverpool demonstrated signs of recovery in April, with two wins and two draws – albeit whilst still being far from their best in an ever-difficult season.
Among those driving the recovery was Trent Alexander-Arnold, enjoying something of a revival himself. Having been dropped from the England squad in March, Trent reminded everybody what he is capable of with some excellent performances back on the front foot, contributing a goal and two assists throughout the month.
Trent’s wing play has always been key to Liverpool’s attacking approach, and his upturn in form is certainly helping the Liverpool front line recover its sharpness.
CB: Diego Llorente (Leeds United)
It’s fair to say that it hasn’t exactly been an ideal debut season for Leeds United defender Diego Llorente, who has endured a first year marred by injuries. However, in April the defender was finally able to show his class and what he can bring to this Leeds side next season.
The Spaniard played every minute of Premier League football in April, helping his side secure a heroic away win over Manchester City and a gritty home draw with Manchester United. What’s more, Llorente scored a dramatic late headed equaliser against Liverpool, his first goal for the club.
An excellent month all around for Llorente and Leeds.
CB: Jonny Evans (Leicester City)
In spite of hitting some relatively patchy form in April, Leicester City still look to be on course for a top four finish. In their backline consisting of a blend of youth and experience, Jonny Evans continued to show just what a solid defender he is.
A goal saving tackle against Crystal Palace ensured a hard-fought win for the Foxes, with Evans also earning an assist against the same opponents, sandwiched between a goal for the defender in matches either side.
The Northern Irish centre back is still performing at a very high level for Brendan Rodgers and Leicester City, and looks like he has some years left in him yet.
LB: Luke Shaw (Manchester United)
It isn’t often that the same player makes it into our team of the month three times in a row, but such is the current form of Manchester United’s Luke Shaw that he is becoming impossible to dislodge.
Yet another great month for England left back saw him help his side achieve three wins, one clean sheet, and just three goals conceded in four matches. Shaw’s tenacity at both ends has been a crucial tool in helping United find their way to victory from a goal behind, an outcome that happened yet again in recent matches against Brighton and Tottenham Hotspur.
If anyone is a certainty for Premier League Team of the season, surely it’s him.
CM: Joe Willock (Newcastle United)
The doom and gloom surrounding Newcastle United of late seems to have abated slightly in the last few weeks, following a much-improved April which has led them to the cusp of Premier League survival.
Not only did the Magpies achieve eight points from four games, they also found a new hero; on-loan Arsenal midfielder Joe Willock. Despite having limited time on the pitch, Willock has come up with some massive moments for the Toon in April – late equalisers against Tottenham and Liverpool, and an equally dramatic late winner against West Ham have all swung the relegation battle back in his side’s favour.
Will Newcastle be able to tempt him back to Tyneside next season?
CM: Matheus Pereira (West Bromwich Albion)
In an attack that has often been blunted and stifled all season long, Matheus Pereira has regularly been a rare bright spot for West Bromwich Albion. Now, with his side putting in a number of vastly improved performances, we have seen Pereira take his game to a whole new level.
A stunning haul of two goals and two assists in a single game ripped Chelsea apart at Stamford Bridge, and Pereira carried on that momentum to also score in a victory over Southampton and a draw with Aston Villa.
Like his teammate Sam Johnstone, you imagine that Pereira will be in high demand once the transfer window reopens.
CAM: Jesse Lingard (West Ham United)
As I’ve said previously, it’s very rare for a player to hit the consistency required to feature in our Premier League team of the month three times in a row. But in Jesse Lingard’s case, it is once again fully deserved.
The absolute star of the Premier League since his loan move to West Ham, Lingard continued his exceptional form by registering another four goals and one assist in four matches, helping his side to continue their extraordinary run towards a spot in European competition for next season.
This is now officially Lingard’s best ever goalscoring season, although his future is still unsettled; whether or not he’s at West Ham next season is anyone’s guess, but on this evidence, you certainly think both parties will try to make it happen.
LF: Mason Greenwood (Manchester United)
It’s never too late to make a big impact on a season, and, following an underwhelming 2020/21, Mason Greenwood has returned to centre stage at Manchester United.
Having burst onto the scene last season with fearless dribbling and clinical finishing, Greenwood has suddenly rediscovered the form that made him such a hit last summer, contributing four goals and one assist in just four appearances. A starring performance in the comeback win over Spurs underlined just what he’s capable of.
A last-minute charge towards England’s EURO squad, perhaps?
ST: Chris Wood (Burnley)
Despite suffering three defeats in April, a solitary win against Wolves to round off the month seems to have lifted Burnley away from relegation trouble. The Clarets haven’t been in good form of late, but at least the same cannot be said of their striker Chris Wood.
Still very much the talisman in Burnley’s attack, the New Zealand striker managed to get a goal and an assist against Southampton and then another assist against Newcastle, followed by a stunning individual display against Wolves including a first half hat-trick and another assist.
In his fourth season at the club, Wood has once again been the main man whose goals have steered Burnley away from peril.
RF: Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City) (C)
If you thought that the recent international break might slow down March’s player of the month, think again; The red-hot Leicester striker continues to be one of the top strikers in the league.
Iheanacho made five appearances in April, and returned an excellent tally of four goals and two assists, including a stunning winner against Crystal Palace. His partnership with Jamie Vardy continues to cut apart opposition defences, and is strengthening Leicester’s grip on Champions League football.
For his continued excellent performances, Iheanacho wins our player of the month award for the second successive month, and captains our side.
Manager: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (Manchester United)
Manchester United’s month may have ended with a whimper following a bore draw with Leeds United, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that this has been a good April for the Red Devils, who picked up ten points from a possible twelve.
For this run of results, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scoops our manager of the month award. The Norwegian led the Red Devils to particularly impressive comeback wins over Brighton and Tottenham Hotspur, to add to an ever-growing list of such results for United this season.
In addition to this, United tightened their grip on second place in the league and are now unbeaten away from home in the top flight for over a year.
He’s had his doubters, but little by little, Ole seems to be leading this team in the right direction.
Manchester City and England fan. Writer of opinion and features on all things Premier League and beyond.