Blogs & Opinion


Premier League: Mesut Ozil, Marouane Fellaini and Willian ready to star

Jeff Stelling - Jeff Stelling (Football Presenter & Columnist ) Posted 12th September 2013 view comments

So the trading is over until December and the Premier League is back open for business again after the international break.

Ahead of this week's Soccer Saturday, I spent a few hours attempting to be a City trader at the BGC Charity Day in London, although I must admit I came away barely wiser about how it all works and as for Merse...

Andre Villas-Boas: completing another deal, this time on the BGC Charity Day

Andre Villas-Boas: completing another deal, this time on the BGC Charity Day

BGC lost a lot of people in the Twin Towers in 2001 and the day was initially set up as a mark of respect for those who perished with any commission made on a deal going to a number of charities.

It has proved so successful over the years, however, that it is now almost a celebration and is remarkably well supported.

I missed Princes William and Harry, but Rod Stewart, Sean Bean, Anna Friel and Jimmy Carr were among the celebrities in attendance, while I was there and Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas was doing his bit, too.

Everyone knows Ozil is a fine player but the bare facts are that Arsene Wenger has brought in just one new body when they've got Champions League commitments on the horizon.

Jeff Stelling
Quotes of the week

Stock market traders are often given a rough ride but this bunch was not only fun and helpful, but, to their credit, were all working for nothing to maximise the fundraising.

Needless to say, I met a huge number of football fans while I was there including some very gloomy West Ham fans despondent about Andy Carroll being out injured until Christmas and some relatively optimistic Arsenal fans, buoyed by their victory over Spurs.

Quality

I say 'relatively' because after the first game of the season, which ended in a 3-1 home defeat to Aston Villa, everything was doom and gloom - which was the usual over-exaggeration. To say four wins later in all competitions that everything's rosy would be equally over the top.

There was a lot to like in their performance against Spurs and they've got a terrific run of matches to come: after going to Sunderland this weekend, they are at home to Stoke, away to Swansea - with games against West Brom, Norwich and Palace to come in October.

They don't play any of the 'big boys' again until Liverpool in November, so theoretically by that time they could be in quite a strong position with Mesut Ozil bedded in nicely.

Everyone knows Ozil is a fine player but the bare facts are that Arsene Wenger has brought in just one new body when they've got Champions League commitments against the likes of Marseille, Napoli and Borussia Dortmund on the horizon.

Wenger has bought well and to say he has been too selective would be wrong, but I'm not convinced that he has strengthened in the right area.

Personally, I thought midfield was Arsenal's strongest area - perhaps with the exception of a holding midfielder - especially as Jack Wilshere looks like he needs a bit more time because he hasn't quite rediscovered his form.

Arsenal haven't strengthened defensively, either in the heart of the defence or at full-back, which I thought was critical, nor has he brought in a striker.

Arsenal's first XI, as they showed against Spurs, are more than a match for anybody, but I'm just concerned with the lack of numbers and whether they'll find as the season goes on that they're lacking quality in depth.

Versatile

Marouane Fellaini and Willian - or Will.i.am as Merse called him on the show last week - are among the numerous other players looking to make their mark at new clubs.

I'm fascinated to see if Willian really is worth the reported fee of £30m. He was terrific when he played for Shakhtar against Chelsea but we've only seen glimpses of what he can do.

This is a guy who has won two caps for Brazil in what were exceptionally low-key friendlies, so while there is plenty of talk about how good he might be let's wait and see how good he really is.

Fellaini has nothing to prove on that score and for the life of me I don't understand why some people say that he won't fit into the Manchester United style of play!They attack from all areas and Fellaini is more than versatile to fit into that free-form style; he's a threat going forward, he's a big, strong boy in midfield and he's terrific at set-plays - in attack and defence. His versatility is one of his major strengths!

United fans shouldn't need any reminding just how sensational Fellaini was at the start of last season so I've no doubt that he'll prove to be a good buy.

A big few days lie ahead for David Moyes - another manager who hasn't brought in a huge number of players and isn't without his critics.

United are at home to Crystal Palace this weekend, at home to Leverkusen in the Champions League in midweek - two games which should effectively be 'gimmes'.

By the time they get to next Sunday's Manchester derby, United might be looking in a lot better shape than some people are suggesting they're in at the moment.

Over-achieving

Elsewhere, I see that the blood-letting has begun already with Carlisle sacking Greg Abbott - the third longest-serving manager in English football.

I'm sure that now the first manager has been dismissed, there will be plenty of others looking over their shoulders fearing 'the domino effect'.

Quite simply Abbott has paid the price for over-achieving at Carlisle since he arrived in 2008; he's taken the club to two Wembley finals and a couple of seasons ago they finished eighth in League One.

He's done that with crowds of less than 5,000 and I noticed this season that they'd brought in six free transfers and six loan players, while their first three games of the season were against Orient, Bradford and Coventry - teams that will surely all be top-half clubs.

So I feel a lot of sympathy for Abbott, who has done a terrific job but has gone because Carlisle have had an indifferent five games.

The defeat to Port Vale sealed his fate, Tom Pope's 90th-minute winner prompting smoke to rise from Carlisle United's boardroom indicating that it was time for a change.

Jeff's Gem of the Week

I'm going for Bradford's 4-0 victory over Brentford. The Bees fans will point to the sending off of goalkeeper David Button at 0-0 but I had half an eye on the match and the flow of the game was already turning against them.

I'm not sure anyone believed that Bradford could maintain their momentum from last season but they are doing brilliantly and better still from their point of view they've kept Nahki Wells, who looks seriously as though he can play at a higher level.

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