An awesome Premier League autumn can often fade into a forgettable campaign post-Christmas, just ask Alvaro Negredo.
Perhaps he could learn a thing or two about delayed gratification from our tardy blooming heroes.
More than au fait with the fable of the hare and the tortoise they’ve got stronger and stronger with each month of the New Year.
Raheem Sterling, Liverpool
In hindsight it’s hard to believe that the Reds’ January pursuit of Mohamed Salah had prompted suggestions Sterling would be loaned out in January.
He’d made just one Premier League start before forcing his way into Brendan Rodgers’ first XI at the beginning of December.
The England man has helped himself to nine goals and four assists since.
Edin Dzeko, Man City
The Bosnian bulldozer was put firmly in the shade by the arrival of Negredo from sunny Seville, but his abilities have come to the fore since the Spaniard’s hot-streak begun to cool in the Manchester murk.
Having offered a modest nine goals and two assists before the turn of the year, Dzeko’s output has improved notably since, with 14 strikes for himself and six created for friends.
A sizeable 11 of his 14 league goals this term were either the first or last of proceedings, making the 5/2 prices about either eventuality worth risking against West Ham.
Marko Arnautovic, Stoke
‘The English press liked to talk about Mario – but I promise you Marko will make me looking like the most boring guy in the world. He is one of the funniest and craziest people I have ever met’
Such was the verdict of no less a bona fide fruit loop than Mario Balotelli, yet the Austrian, who played alongside him at Inter, was conspicuously quiet in the early days of his Britannia Stadium career.
A man of the match showing at Old Trafford in October gave Potters a tantalising taste of his gifts, but Stoke’s 3-5 January loss to Liverpool really lit the touch paper.
The Austrian’s account consisted of two goals and one assist before that fixture on the 12th day of 2014.
His two assists against Brendan Rodgers’ men were among the six he has supplied since, a contribution he has supplemented with three goals.
Wilfried Bony, Swansea
Despite his Europa League exploits, the shed-sized Senegalese must have had less faithful Swans beginning to fear the curse of the Eredivisie goal hero had struck, just as it had Middlesbrough and Chelsea before them.
He notched just four league goals for the Welshmen in 2013, but seems to have well and truly found his feet now, bagging ten in the league (14 in all competitions) since.
Jason Puncheon, Crystal Palace
If the season had begun in it’s 20th game Crystal Palace would be eighth, behind Southampton in seventh by a solitary strike’s worth of goal difference.
While their superhuman efforts under the guidance of Tony Pulis have been a team effort, the Croydon-born winger’s caterpillar to butterfly act since 2013 kissed him goodbye has been nothing short of sensational.
Having previously mustered a solitary assist, his six goals and one set up since New Year’s Day have added up to 13 points for the Eagles.