Not many people would have predicted Teemu Pukki would win the first Premier League Player of the Month of the season, but he is not the first surprise winner. Adam le Fondre (Reading) – January 2013
Reading looked doomed for relegation following their 3-1 defeat at Tottenham on New Year’s Day 2013, but they took seven points from their remaining three games in January, with forward Le Fondre netting five goals, including braces against Newcastle and Chelsea.
That was enough for the journeyman forward to earn the Player of the Month award and he went on to finish as Reading’s top scorer with 12 goals.
Unfortunately, it was not enough to keep Reading in the Premier League – they were relegated in 19th place – and Le Fondre never played in the top flight in England again, but, at the age of 32, he is still scoring at a regular rate for Sydney FC in the Australian A-League.
Connor Wickham (Sunderland) – April 2014
These days powerful forward Wickham can be found more often than not in the treatment room at Crystal Palace, but in April 2014 he was spearheading Sunderland’s latest survival bid.
Defeats to Tottenham and Everton at the start of the month had many people writing the Black Cats off as relegation fodder, but seven points from their next three games, that included clashes with Manchester City and Chelsea, ultimately helped steer them away from trouble.
Wickham was certainly key to that run after he scored five goals, including a brace at the Etihad Stadium.
Diafra Sakho (West Ham) – October 2014
West Ham had endured an underwhelming start to the 2014-15 season under Sam Allardyce, but their campaign came to life in October thanks in large to the heroics of Senegal international Sakho.
Sakho scored in all three of the Hammers’ matches that month as they recorded wins over Queens Park Rangers, Burnley and Manchester City, including the winner against the latter at a packed Upton Park.
The Hammers went on to finish the season in a respectable 12th place, while Sakho ended the campaign as the club’s top scorer with 10 league goals.
The now 29-year-old left West Ham in 2018 and can be found playing in France with Rennes following an unsuccessful loan spell with Turkish Super Lig club Bursaspor last season.
Andre Ayew (Swansea) – August 2015
Ghana star Ayew was a new signing for Swansea at the start of the 2015-16 season and enjoyed a dream start to life in England, scoring in the wins against Newcastle and Manchester United, as well as the opening day draw at Chelsea.
Ayew went on to finish as the Swans’ top scorer that season with 12 goals and it earned him a move to West Ham.
However, that transfer did not work out and the winger was back at the Liberty Stadium 18 months later although only in time to see them suffer relegation from the Premier League.
He looked destined to leave the club this summer following a loan spell at Fenerbahce, but no move materialised and he now appears to have turned things around once again, playing a starring role as the Swans currently sit top of the Championship.
Odion Ighalo (Watford) – December 2015
Nigeria international Ighalo scored the goals to fire Watford to the Premier League in 2015, but many people were unsure whether he would be able to replicate that in the Premier League.
However, he took to the top flight like a duck to water, with December proving a particularly prolific month, the highlight being his brace in a 3-0 home win over Liverpool.
Ighalo went on to score 15 league goals that season as Watford comfortably avoided relegation, but that was as good as it got for him in the Premier League. He left Watford in 2017 and has spent the last few years in the Chinese Super League.