Pukki should edge out established stars to claim monthly PL prize

Norwich City
Norwich summer signing Ibrahim Amadou could make his debut when Chelsea visit Carrow Road on Saturday.

Norwich hotshot Teemu Pukki and Burnley’s Ashley Barnes are the unheralded names amongst the big boys vying for August’s PL Player of the Month gong.

With the first month of the new season completed, the nominations for the monthly player award have been announced and it will be interesting to see if either Pukki or Barnes can see off top stars from Manchester City and Liverpool to collect the coveted prize.

City trio Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling, and Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino complete the list, which fans get to vote on, and, like most months, it’s difficult to separate the six players in contention.

Burnley striker Barnes has had a fantastic first month, scoring four goals in four games and proving to be handful up front for all of the Clarets’ opponents so far. He enjoyed a fine end to last term too, scoring nine goals from January onwards and has picked up in August where he left off in May.

For Barnes to win it, he would have to hope unfashionable Burnley’s fans vote en masse and, with the established stars regularly picking up these sort of awards, it would be refreshing to see the 29-year-old pip them.

Similarly, Norwich ace Pukki would be a welcome winner and give the so-called smaller clubs something to shout about. Very few people gave the Canaries much hope of doing anything other than going straight back down to the Championship this season, while it was widely suggested Pukki – prolific in the second tier – would barely get a sniff in front of goal amongst the elite.

However, he has been the unexpected star of the first month, managing five goals and one assist and claimed the matchball with a treble in the impressive home win over Newcastle. Pukki has been on target against Liverpool and Chelsea, too, to suggest he can hurt the big teams this season. The Finn would surely be a worthy winner.

Strangely, only one Liverpool player makes the nomination list with Firmino included after match-sealing goals against Southampton and Burnley as the Reds have made it four wins from four. The Brazilian does not always grab the headlines, and his goal record is not as good as his much talked-about forward line teammates at Anfield, Sadio Mane and Mo Salah, but he is invaluable to Jurgen Klopp’s side and makes them tick.

Without ‘Bobby’, Liverpool sometimes look ordinary but his relentless pressing style and eye for a key pass or goal gets them going time and again. He’s been outstanding during their winning start. That said, he probably shouldn’t win this prize ahead of Barnes or Pukki, who have probably enjoyed the finest month of their careers.

Finally, the City three of Aguero, De Bruyne and Sterling have been nominated and it’s no surprise to see them included as they underline their class once again.

Aguero has scored a league-high six so far, impressively coming from just 267 minutes on the pitch, while De Bruyne and Sterling have been the inspiration going forward for Pep Guardiola’s men. Sterling is continuing to develop at a rapid rate and has five goals already, while De Bruyne only has one but has further demonstrated his crucial creativity and exceptional talent with five assists so far.

All six will feel they have done enough to win the award but, all things considered Pukki – in his first season playing in the Premier League remember – is the stand-out nomination.

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