brighton logo Player of the Month - January 2015

Chris Hughton's first month in charge of Brighton and Hove Albion yielded a remarkable upturn in form with three wins in all competitions - nearly as many as we'd managed in six months of Sami Hyypia.

There was that most rare of things - a victory at Brentford, albeit in the FA Cup as well as league wins at Charlton Athletic and at home to high flying Ipswich Town. Arsenal never really needed to get out of third gear in their FA Cup visit while Brentford extracted revenge with a Championship victory at The Amex and rock bottom Blackpool also defeated the Seagulls on a game that was played on the surface of the moon.

The biggest improvement so far of the Hughton era has come from individual players, which is shown by the January shortlist. Who'd have thought they'd have the option to put a tick in the box next to Chris O'Grady, Joao Teixeira, Solly March, Rohan Ince and Sam Baldock's names a month ago?

January 2015 Player of the Month - Chris O'Grady (56.67% of the vote)
Perhaps the biggest indication of the difference that Chris Hughton made in his first match in charge came in the shape of Chris O'Grady's form. A player who under Sami Hyypia looked horrifically out of his depth returned from a loan spell at Sheffield United and is suddenly polling over 50% of the votes for Player of the Month. The striker had to bide his time, making his first three appearances of January from the substitutes bench but has since broken his duck with FA Cup goals away at Brentford and at home to Arsenal helping to ensure his place as first choice striker.
Played 6 (3 starts). Scored 2.
Second: Rohan Ince (26.67% of the vote)
Another player who was having a hit-and-miss season before Hughton's arrival, he now looks back to the same sort of form that earned him rave reviews in the autumn of 2013. Scored his first league goal at Charlton and excelled against Arsenal's world class midfield.
Third: Sam Baldock (6.67% of the vote)
Has found himself playing wide on the left from where he netted two first class goals in the victory over Ipswich and the cup game with Arsenal. Yet another player who has looked revitalised this month as he finally begins to get a run in the team and look like a Championship forward.

The contenders:
Sam Baldock - Moved to a wider position than he is perhaps accustomed to and responded with two goals in as many games - the stunning opener in the Ipswich victory and a delightful dink in the FA Cup tie with Arsenal.
Joe Bennett - Missed out on the FA Cup game at Brentford when Adam Chicksen was given a ragged time in the first half, he continues to be a big part of the defence and set up Teixeira's second against Ipswich with a swashbuckling run.
Inigo Calderon - Found himself playing as a right midfielder in the latter stages of the month, where he had a superb game against Ipswich keeping arguably the finest left back in the division Tyrone Mings as quiet as he has been all season.
Lewis Dunk - Stupid red card against Brentford in the league aside, it was another fine month for the young centre back with two clean sheets recorded and another goal to cement his place at the top of the scorers charts.
Gordon Greer - His return from injury coincided with that run of clean sheets in the captial with the defence looking a lot more solid for his presence as he captains under his fourth different Albion manager.
Rohan Ince - Finally began to show some of the promise of the first half of last season again once Hughton was appointed including scoring his first league goal in the win over Charlton and ensuring Alexis Sanchez was kept relatively quiet during Arsenal's visit.
Solly March - It was unfortunate for Hyypia that he never had the England under 21 winger fully fit to call upon and he showed what the Albion had been missing, setting up goals galore at Brentford and Charlton.
Chris O'Grady - If anyone has benefitted from Hughton's appointment, it is the former Barnsley striker who has returned from a loan at Sheffield United and been given a run of games, scoring his first two goals for the club against Brentford and Arsenal.
David Stockdale - Excelled in the first half at Brentford with the Albion under all manner of pressure and also kept a clean sheet at Charlton before impressing against Arsenal despite conceding three. A key player if we are to stay in the division.
Joao Teixeira - Spring and warmer weather must be on its way as the mercurial Portugese contributed for the first time since September. A rightful winner of man of the match against Ipswich when his two goals were instrumental in picking up a massive three points.