Names of the Premier League is a brand new feature on Just Football in which we’ll take a look at five names (be they player or manager) who made a real impression over the weekend – for better or worse.
This weekend was the time for debuts as fans got a first chance to look at players their clubs signed on deadline day. Two of last season’s top four slipped up away from home and Paolo Di Canio’s Sunderland failed to win yet again. On Monday night we were treated to a terrific 2-2 draw between Swansea and Liverpool at the Liberty Stadium. Here were the star names of Week 4:
Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal)
Although a certain £42.5 million German made a sparkling debut on Saturday for Arsenal it was Ramsey who really caught the eye with two goals. Of course Özil’s first appearance for his new club warrants a mention, especially when you consider that he was suffering from an illness.
For Ramsey, though, this was just further proof that he is at the top of his game, not so long after a large section of Arsenal fans wanted him dropped from the first team. The Welshman’s horrific leg break following a challenge from Ryan Shawcross set him back a bit and at times it did seem like some of the Emirates crowd had forgotten that. No-one is on his back now though and Ramsey has been in terrific form since the opening day of the season.
Ramsey was the highest performing player in the Premier League this weekend according to WhoScored, and indeed in the Premier League this season only team-mate Olivier Giroud and Liverpool’s Lucas Leiva have better average ratings. When he was bought by Arsenal as an 18 year old he was one of the most promising young players in the country and now it looks like he is fulfilling his potential.
Leon Osman (Everton)
Leon Osman is one of those players that sparked much debate when he earned an international call-up under Roy Hodgson. Most were thrilled with the announcement, citing his case as an example for players outside the top four and how he had worked hard for his chance.
Others said he was just there to make up their numbers. But in reality, those people were fooling themselves because Osman has been one of the most consistent performers in the Premier League for some time now. Osman can be used anywhere across the midfield but deployed in central midfield, as he was on Saturday afternoon, he is at his best.
Alongside a more defensive player like Gareth Barry (who was also brilliant) he can flourish, but that doesn’t mean he ignores the defensive side of the game. In Everton’s 1-0 win Osman was critical in shutting down Chelsea’s midfield and he is also more than capable of weighing in with goals as well.
Jussi Jääskeläinen (West Ham)
A lot of managers like to sign players that they’ve previously worked with and if you think about it, it makes sense. As a manager you’ll know exactly what you’ll get from the player in question and they know what to expect from you as a manager. Whilst in charge of West Ham Sam Allardyce has signed two players of note that he used to work with at Bolton: Kevin Nolan and Jussi Jääskeläinen.
The former has done what he has been doing throughout his career, scoring goals from midfield, whilst the latter has also turned out to be a bit of a masterstroke. Signing a keeper of Jääskeläinen’s quality and experience (and on a free transfer) was a wise move.
On Sunday it was only due to the Finn’s experience that the score at Southampton stayed at 0-0. He had to be at his best to deny Southampton on multiple occasions as he put in a match on of the match display. Jääskeläinen made a number of fine stops to help West Ham get their third clean sheet of the season, but he must be wondering when the men in front of him will start performing.
Hatem Ben Arfa (Newcastle United)
In a summer of discontent at Newcastle, the club were lauded at the end for keeping hold of prized possession Yohan Cabaye. What they should really be credited for though, is keeping hold of his compatriot, Hatem Ben Arfa.
The Frenchman was magnificent on Saturday even if Aston Villa could have afforded to push him out wide more often than they did. Regardless he was at the top of his game and in one of those moods that justifies Alan Pardew describing him as “unplayable”.
He terrorised the Aston Villa back line with his weaving dribbles and shooting. His willingness to drift inside was perfectly demonstrated by his goal, abandoning his position on the right flank in order to get into the box and sweep home for the game’s opener.
Getting Ben Arfa fully fit and able to play for the vast majority of the season is probably as vital to Newcastle’s chances as was keeping Cabaye. The two are the undoubted stars of the side and in a team lacking obvious firepower they will be vital in providing a regular source of goals.
Jonjo Shelvey (Swansea City)
Finally, no mention of this week’s action would be complete without touching on Swansea’s Jonjo Shelvey. The midfielder was at the centre of everything in his team’s 2-2 draw against his former side Liverpool, good and bad. After some determined work he gave Swansea the lead within a couple of minutes but, like a conjuring trick, he took the rug from beneath Swansea’s feet as his misplaced back pass was picked up by Daniel Sturridge, who smashed home the equaliser.
Later on in the half he was guilty of yet another misplaced pass that Victor Moses pounced on for his first goal since joining on loan from Chelsea.
At half-time the Sky Sports panel of Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville were in agreement that he should be taken off. As he entered the fray for the second half the aforementioned duo joined most of the watching audience in pointing out how unsettled he looked and how the previous 45 minutes had “clearly affected him”.
Obviously oblivious to what had been said about him Shelvey proceeded to give a thoroughly professional display, evidently determined to atone for his previous errors. It was his delightfully deft knock-down that brought the equaliser from Michu and for much of the second half Swansea were the better side. The fact that Shelvey was at the heart of that, rather than a passenger or even off the pitch, speaks volumes about his character.
Who were your names of the Premier League in Matchday 4? Comments welcome below.
(photo credit: David Santamaria via Flickr)