Bottom club Aston Villa, struggling champions Chelsea and high flying West Ham United all feature in the January shortlist for the African Player of the Month in the English Premier League.


A statement released by award organisers New African Soccer named Villa's summer signing, Ghanaian Jordan Ayew, Chelsea's Nigerian midfielder Jon Obi Mikel and Hammers' Senegalese Cheikhou Kouyate as the final three in the shortlist for the award.


The statement signed by Awards Director Tunde Adelakun explained that the month showed signs of a long and hard season for the Premier League players so far with players like Odion Ighalo and Leicester's Riyad Mahrez still proving doubters wrong as they continued sparkling form. But, according to Adelakun, this month is 'a tribute to the Africans who are making their own contribution in their own way, in their clubs' trying times'.


Apart from Kouyate, whose West Ham is certainly riding high, getting impressive results against the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City, and an impressive away win at Bournemouth, the other two nominees are having a season to forget in their respective clubs.


Chelsea, champions of England only last season, are not having the best of times. But, as Adelakun pointed out, 'things have taken a turn for the up for the champions, unbeaten in 8 games since the departure of former manager Mourinho, but more importantly, a restore to starting eleven duties for Nigerian Jon Obi Mikel". Continuing, he said "Mikel has put an air of settlement in the Chelsea midfield and we thought we should recognise his input by shortlisting him for January's award".


The same can be said of Ghanaian Jordan Ayew, who is having a torrid season with Aston Villa, seemingly unable to pick points to take them off the bottom of the table. However, Ayew has been playing really well, showing signs of why he was highly rated and picked up by Villa in the summer. In the statement, Adelakun was quoted as saying "the quality of Ayew's skill, ability and work rate belies the position his team is on the table, but that is football", he concluded.


The statement concluded by calling on readers and followers of New African Soccer on all media to vote for their choice for the Award for January. Results will be announced in the coming days.