The Scottish Premiership took something of a back seat to the League Cup final and…
We’re now well and truly in to 2018 and as such it’s time to figure out which players excelled in the first month of Scottish Premiership action. Here are the best players for each position – decided through data.
Every month TheTwoPointOne chooses the Scottish Premiership players of the month for the Sunday Herald. This article initially appeared in the paper on Sunday, February 4 .
January was a tough month for Premiership goalkeepers. We lost Aberdeen’s Joe Lewis and Celtic’s Craig Gordon to long-term injury but fortunately there are plenty of other shot-stoppers in the division to keep us entertained.
Tomas Cerny of Partick Thistle kept up his impressive form between the posts and Celtic target Trevor Carson made no less than nine saves over Motherwell’s three games in January, however it was Hibernian’s own Ofir Marciano that came out on top this month.
The Hibs shot-stopper was instrumental in tight wins over Dundee and Motherwell and with six shots at Celtic Park to keep him busy there’s no doubt Neil Lennon’s side could have left Glasgow with a much tougher defeat than a simple 1-0.
Rangers accomplished a quick turnaround in players during the January transfer window and one of the most impressive signings was that of former Norwich defender, Russell Martin. The Scotland international has vast experience playing as a central defender at the highest level in England and of course for his country, and in many ways has made an immediate impact at the Ibrox club.
In January no Premiership club conceded fewer goals per game than Rangers, with Graeme Murty’s side showing a defensive aptitude that surpassed even Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic side. A large part of that will undoubtedly be down to the manner in which Martin has comfortably slotted in alongside David Bates and shored up what once was a troublesome part of the Rangers team.
Some question marks have remained over former Manchester City youngster, Olivier Ntcham, since his big-money arrival at Celtic Park, however with every passing month the French midfielder seems to be settling in more and more and thus his performances have only improved.
Perhaps some of the criticism has stemmed from the false impression that the 21-year-old is a box-to-box or defensive midfielder – he’s neither. And when we look at the stats we can see that he thrives when tasked with moving forward with the ball. In January no player in the Premiership completed more passes in to the final third of the pitch, with Ntcham squeezing just past Hibernian’s and former Celtic youngster, Dylan McGeouch. An average of 14 in each game.
Louis, who? Motherwell may have been fearing the worst at the start of the January transfer window when they looked set to sell Louis Moult but they’ve now left that all behind with new striker Curtis Main hitting the ground running in no time at all.
The 25-year-old free transfer started all three of Motherwell’s Premiership games in January and despite mixed results for the club, picked up a goal in each and every game – including a vital equaliser against Hearts in the dying moments of the match.
It remains to be seen if the English striker can keep up such an impressive goal tally, but for now he can look back with joy at a month that saw him outscore Alfredo Morelos, Leigh Griffiths and Moussa Dembele.
While Marciano, Martin and Ntcham have all done more than enough to deserve praise, it’s really quite something for a striker of relatively unknown ability to arrive in the Premiership and hit the ground running just as Main did in January.
Motherwell’s success relies upon impressive goalscorers and few could argue that few players seem to have found themselves in the right place at the right time quite like Main at Motherwell.