Petr Cech (Arsenal)
The former Chelsea shot-stopper's Premier League debut for his new side against West Ham couldn't have gone much worse, but Cech has firmly put that nightmare behind him with a number of commanding performances for Arsenal over the past four weeks.
There were initial concerns over his ability with his feet, although this has subsided with the Czech international’s assured presence behind the backline. He has kept clean sheets against Manchester United and Bayern Munich in the last month, while there was little he could do about the goals conceded in the Capital One Cup defeat to Sheffield Wednesday.
His vital saves in the Champions League game against Pep Guardiola's side weren't as eye catching as those made by his opposite number Manuel Neuer, but they were just as important – and most importantly, he didn't make a glaring error that made the difference at the Emirates Stadium.
Hector Bellerin (Arsenal)
The young Spaniard has made the right-back position his own at Arsenal in the last 18 months, with equally impressive defensive and offensive displays. Only Mesut Ozil has created more chances in the Premier League than Bellerin, with the fast full-back taking advantage of the space created by Aaron Ramsey.
He endured a difficult first 45 minutes against the impressive Douglas Costa of Bayern Munich, but such is the maturity of the 20-year-old that he came out strong in the second half and laid on the assist for Ozil’s clincher with a barnstorming run. There was also an assist at Watford, as part of a Gunners backline that kept four clean sheets in five Premier League and Champions League fixtures.
Raphael Varane (Real Madrid)
Varane has been ever-present at the heart of Real Madrid's defence, with both Pepe and Sergio Ramos missing matches. The 22-year-old’s progression has been somewhat stifled over the last 12 months, as he started just over half the league matches. However, this term he has appeared in the starting XI in all but one La Liga game, and shown tremendous leadership skills alongside Nacho. The French centre-back makes few tackles, as he relies on his excellent positioning to make interceptions and blocks. In possession his distribution is very good, with a tendency to pick out his advancing full-backs.
Thiago Silva (PSG)
PSG have conceded just two goals in the last month, with captain Silva partnering David Luiz, Marquinhos and Serge Aurier at various stages. The Brazilian's aerial ability and organisational skills have ensured that the numerous disturbances in central defence have caused minimal impact in Laurent Blanc's team.
Silva may have been cast aside by Dunga for Brazil, but the 31-year-old appears to be back to his best and even kept Cristiano Ronaldo at bay in the 0-0 draw with Real Madrid. His understanding of the game enables him to intercept danger before feeling the need to commit to a tackle.
Marcelo (Real Madrid)
After the departure of Fabio Coentrao on loan to Monaco, Marcelo has become Rafael Benitez's trusted left-back and one of the few players to survive rotation thus far. Along with goalkeeper Keylor Navas and Cristiano Ronaldo, the Brazilian has started every league game for Real Madrid this season.
Los Blancos have conceded only three goals in the last five matches, and Marcelo has had to directly mark Antoine Griezmann, Fabian Orellana and Angel Di Maria. He’s also contributed in an attacking sense with two goals. His work-rate at both ends of the pitch was illustrated in the game with Levante, as he completed more tackles in his own half than anyone else (three) and created more goalscoring opportunities (four).
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Napoli have enjoyed a fantastic month with four wins in five Serie A matches, including victories over leaders Fiorentina and the in-form Milan. Many of the plaudits have been reserved for the much-improved defence and forward players like Lorenzo Insigne and Gonzalo Higuain.
However, the 23-year-old has helped his team to four clean sheets in the league during October, protecting the back four. The Brazilian is more of deep-lying playmaker than a natural destroyer, although he did complete four tackles in the victory over Fiorentina.
He outpassed every other player on the pitch in all five matches during the month, with an incredible 143 completed against Palermo, and has made a minimum of nine ball recoveries in each game.
Miralem Pjanic (Roma)
The Bosnian has been one of the main reasons behind Roma's good run of form, orchestrating the capital club’s play in central midfield. He let himself down with a red card in the defeat to Inter Milan, although he had already created eight chances before his sending off for two bookable offences.
No player in Serie A makes more key passes per game, but it's his unbelievable ability at set-pieces that has made the real difference. Before last weekend's game with Inter, the Bosnian had scored an incredible 10 goals from 21 free-kick attempts, with four in his last six. He learnt to be a dead-ball specialist while at Lyon under the tutelage of the infamous Juninho Pernambucano.
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Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich)
The German World Cup-winner has 10 goals in nine starts for Bayern Munich in the league, a remarkable feat when you consider that he isn't an out-and-out striker. He has appeared in the role, although it's his productivity as a No.10 and on the right that has stood out in the last month.
His two goals against Borussia Dortmund set up Guardiola’s men for an impressive 5-1 win, and he also netted in the wins against Werder Bremen, Cologne and Wolfsburg (twice). Muller's more than just a prolific finisher: he's capable of beating a player and creating chances for team-mates regularly. He completed six take-ons against Dortmund, with four in a central zone.
Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)
Manchester City's new signing has made a seamless transition from the Bundesliga to the Premier League, and quickly become a vital player at the Etihad Stadium. The Belgian can be relied upon when the rest of his team-mates are struggling to perform, as he showed against Sevilla in the Champions League.
He managed three goals and four assists for Manuel Pellegrini’s side during the month, and delivered another two goals for his national side. The only match where he failed to make a real impact was in the derby against Manchester United, as he was dealt with superbly by Marcos Rojo. That said, he still created two chances which only Juan Mata could match in an incredibly cagey clash.
Barcelona's Brazilian wideman scored four goals against Rayo Vallecano and created another for Luis Suarez, as he enjoyed the space vacated by Paco Jemez's gung-ho scallies. Two of the strikes were penalties, but it was his skill that created both of them – a turn of pace for the first and a superb nutmeg on Nacho which gave him the opportunity for a second.
In total he managed six goals and five assists in October, and he's clearly enjoying the extra responsibility in the absence of the injured Lionel Messi. Neymar did, however, finish off a superb month with a botched bid to scare manager Luis Enrique: he and his team-mates instead stormed Getafe midfielder Victor Rodriguez’s press conference in Halloween fancy dress.
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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Dortmund)
It's a straight shootout at the top of the Bundesliga scoring charts between Aubameyang and Robert Lewandowski, but it's the Gabon international who has been most productive in recent weeks. His back-to-back hat-tricks against FK Qabala (in the Europa League) and Augsburg have taken him to an astonishing 20 goals in 18 appearances in all competitions this term.
Borussia Dortmund are enjoying a renaissance under Thomas Tuchel, and it's the threat of Aubameyang in transition that gives them the cutting edge. His curling effort from outside the area against Qabala in the Europa League showed that he's more than just a pacy poacher, although it's his capability to beat an opponent in the final third that always impresses supporters.
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