After Sunderland's form picked up in a big way in the last six weeks, the Premier League have recognised our improvement with Gus Poyet nominated for Premier League Manager of the Month for January and Adam Johnson nominated for the Premier League Player of the Month.
Poyet will be going up against Manuel Pellegrini, Jose Mourinho and Tony Pulis, while Johnson will be up against Santi Carzola, Luis Suarez and Yaya Toure.
Manager of the Month
Sunderland actually started the month of January poorly, with a 1-0 home defeat to Aston Villa, thankfully that was followed by our league result of the month when we comprehensively beat Fulham 4-1 at Craven Cottage, the team then came back from 2-0 at home down to force a 2-2 draw with Southampton and ended the month with a vital 1-0 home victory against Stoke City. We also had a very successful month in the cup competitions, with home victories over Kidderminster Harriers and Carlisle United before famously knocking Manchester United out of the Capital One Cup on penalties and progressing to the final.
Pellegrini's Manchester City won all of their Premier League games in January, with victories at Swansea (3-2), Newcastle (2-0) and Tottenham (5-1) and at home against Cardiff (4-2). Like Sunderland they also got to the Capital One Cup final as they thrashed West Ham 9-0 on aggregate and they also progressed to the fifth round of the FA Cup after knocking out Blackburn (after a replay) and Watford.
Since conceding six goals in two games at Sunderland and Stoke in December, Mourinho has gone back to what he knows best, defending and keeping clean sheets, which was highlighted by Chelsea's results in January, where the London club only conceded one goal in the entire month. They won 3-0 at Southampton, 2-0 at Hull, then beat Manchester United 3-1 at home and ended the month with a disappointing 0-0 home draw with West Ham. They too reached the FA Cup fifth round, after winning 2-0 at Derby and knocking out Stoke 1-0 at Stamford Bridge.
Like Poyet, Pulis has turned around his new club's form. Palace started the month with a 1-1 draw at home to Norwich, they followed that up with a 2-0 defeat at Spurs and the Londoners ended the month in fine form after 1-0 home wins against Hull and Stoke. They had a fine 2-0 win at West Brom in the third round of the FA Cup but were knocked out of the cup by Championship side Wigan, as the Latics won 2-1 at the DW Stadium.
Our month may have been enough for Poyet to win the award in most months but it's hard to look past either Mourinho or Pellegrini due to their results. The sheer amount of goals scored by the Chilean's Man City side, coupled with Chelsea dropping points at home to West Ham in the league, is likely to see Pellegrini awarded Manager of the Month.
Player of the Month
Johnson had without doubt the best month of his Sunderland career and arguably the best month of his career full stop. He came on as a late substitute in the home defeat against Aston Villa but since the FA Cup win against Carlisle, he has looked like the player we were hoping we had signed from Man City originally. He scored a beautiful free kick against Carlisle and set up the second goal (an own goal) to kick start his run of form. Since that game he has scored in every Premier League game, being involved in all four goals at Fulham (as he scored a hat-trick and set up Ki for the game's second goal) followed up by setting up Borini for the first goal against Southampton and then smashing in the Southampton. He also scored the winner in the vital home clash with Stoke. He missed the chance to score the winning penalty in the Capital One Cup semi-final but he did set up the winner in the first leg when he was brought down in the box by Tom Cleverley, which allowed Fabio Borini to score the winner from the penalty spot.
Toure started the month well. as he scored in City's 3-2 win at Swansea. He failed to find the net against Newcastle but scored what turned out to be the winner at home to Cardiff and then ended the month with a goal in Man City's rout of Spurs at White Hart Lane. He then got a goal and an assist in City's 6-0 Capital One Cup semi-final win over West Ham and got another assist in the FA Cup as City came from 2-0 down at home to Watford to win 4-2.
Suarez had a typically stellar month, with four goals and five assists in all competitions. He started the Premier League month with the second goal in a 2-0 home win over Hull, then grabbed two goals and an assist in a 5-3 win over Stoke at the Britannia, was brought down by a clumsy Brad Guzan challenge which Steven Gerrard converted as they came back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 at home to Villa and finally wrapped up the scoring in a 4-0 derby win over Everton at Anfield. He also set up both goals as Liverpool progressed to the fifth round of the FA Cup with a routine 2-0 victory at Bournemouth.
Carzola didn't quite have the stand out month in the Premier League that the other 3 did but he did score a double in a 2-0 win over Fulham and then scored the equaliser away to Southampton as Arsenal came from 2-0 down. He also scored a goal in each round of the FA Cup, coming in a 2-0 victory over rivals Spurs and a comfortable 4-0 win at home to Coventry.
Although we are clearly biased, it's hard to look past Adam Johnson for this award. He top scored and was involved in all of Sunderland's seven Premier League goals in January, while also hitting a hat-trick. Form which may well get him back in the England reckoning with Roy Hodgson due to watch him play against Hull City this weekend.
Do you agree with our picks, or do you think Gus Poyet masterminding our revival should be recognised with the January Manager of the Month award?