January has been a testing month for Manchester United, beginning with three defeats but ending with a morale-boosting win over Cardiff City as the feel-good factor returned to Old Trafford.
Among those mixed results, there have been some notable individual performances, leading us to pick out three candidates for our latest Player of the Month award. Here, we identify the trio on the shortlist and summarise their contributions…
Adnan Januzaj appeared in all seven of United's games in January, playing the full 90 minutes in five of them. The teenager set up Welbeck's goal in the defeat to Tottenham, had a goal disallowed in the Capital One Cup tie at Sunderland and hit the crossbar in the league win over Swansea. But it was his fearless performance in the disappointing reversal at Chelsea that showed everyone he's at home on the big stage.
Chris Smalling makes our shortlist for the second consecutive month after impressing at both full-back and centre-back with several mature, composed displays, particularly in the win over Cardiff and in the second leg against Sunderland. The defender also pressed forward regularly and came within a whisker of scoring against Spurs and Swansea.
Danny Welbeck has also earned back-to-back nominations for our monthly award, having led the line manfully in the absence of Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney. The Manchester-born forward was a near ever-present in January, missing only the Cardiff game. Well-taken finishes against Spurs and Swansea took his tally for the season to nine, and he was also involved in United's goals at Chelsea and at home to Sunderland.
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