How New Signings Ozil, Eto’o, Barry, Eriksen, Sakho & Fellaini Fared In Their Debuts

Having had to wait two weeks, supporters of Premier League clubs finally got to see some of their last-minute signings in action this weekend just gone.

The capture of a new star stirs excitement amongst a fan base, but ahead of a big debut, nerves do remain prominent.

Will the new signing adapt to English football? Will he fit into the system? Have we acquired an expensive flop?

It has to be said, a new signing’s first outing is not the ideal juncture to address any of these queries with any real certainty, but you only get one chance to make a first impression.

So let’s take a closer look at how some of the Premier League’s high profile new signings fared on debut and take a glance as to what supporters should expect from their new men a little further down the line:

Mesut Ozil:

He’s got magic in his boots according to Paolo Di Canio. And you would be hard pushed to disagree with the Sunderland boss after the German impressed on his Gunners debut

Ozil’s ability to find space between the lines was plain to see in his opening outing for the Gunners

Ozil’s ability to find space between the lines was always a stand out patent of his game during his time at Real Madrid, and he showcased this in abundance against an out of sorts Sunderland side. It didn’t take long for Ozil to trap a long ball on the left and nonchalantly roll it into to path of the oncoming Giroud. The in-form Frenchman obliged with a neat finish.

Ozil puts one on a plate for Giroud

For the remainder of the half, Ozil took up the creative mantle with vigour, sending Theo Walcott through on goal on a couple of occasions – chances which the Englishman could only squander. Naturally, after little football and a rumoured stomach bug, Ozil tired in the second period. He’ll face tougher challenges than Saturday’s but the early signs suggest he’ll be worth every bit of the £42 million outlay.

Debut rating: 8 out of 10

Gareth Barry:

The loan deal of Barry was one of the most understated signings of the season, but the former Villa man put in what was probably the best display of any debutant over the weekend. His manager Roberto Martinez described his performance as a ‘master class’.

He slotted seamlessly into the Everton midfield and was they key contributor in the Toffees’ triumph over Chelsea. The England international offered a unnerving presence in the centre of midfield and was superb in his passing, leadership and especially his reading of the game.

Barry was steady in possession and gave his teammates a regular option in a cluttered midfield

His defensive awareness was key in Everton stealing the ball and hitting Chelsea on the break in the latter stages of the match, a tactic which was key in helping the Toffees relieve some of the pressure on their goal.

His stunning block following Tim Howard’s gaffe was the coup de grace on wonderful Goodison Park debut.

Debut rating: 9 out of 10


Christian Eriksen:

If Spurs were lacking a dash of creative ingenuity in their opening contests, they look to have struck gold with the signing of Eriksen.

Despite his joyous double nutmeg in the opening stages of the game, the Dane is by no means an overly flashy player. His game is all about subtle movement and intelligent one-touch passing.

His attacking awareness and appreciation of space is marvellous too and this was on show as he played a superb weighted pass to set up Gylfi Siggurdson for the opening goal. As you can see, the Dane didn’t even have to look up.

Eriksen plays a superb pass for Tottenham’s opening goal

He continued to find pockets of space all over the pitch against a Norwich side who are usually very compact. Against teams that look to attack Spurs – where space between the lines will be more readily accessible – he could become an even greater threat. Every touch, every movement was brimming with class.

Debut rating: 9 out of 10


Samuel Eto’o:

Jose Mourinho turned to a player who he knows well in an attempt to solve Chelsea’s striking conundrum. And Eto’o was thrust straight into English football, playing the full ninety minutes in his new side’s 1-0 defeat to Everton.

The Cameroonian had six attempts in the match but failed to find the back of the net with any. He missed a guilt-edge free header early on and would have tapped into an empty net if had not been for Barry’s heroic block – although the former Anzhi mans reactions could have been perhaps been quicker.

Eto’o looked to drift into wide areas, but still managed plenty of shots at goal

Eto’o was drifting wide throughout the contest and was often occupying the same spaces as Chelsea’s attacking midfield trio. If he stays central and looks to make runs in behind, the likes of Mata, Hazard, Oscar and the will see he gets plenty of chances. He played in a deeper role at Anzhi, but in this set-up doesn’t need to go searching for the ball.

It may be a few weeks yet before Eto’o adapts to Chelsea’s way of playing, but he showcased enough to suggest he will eventually score goals in the Premier League.

Debut rating: 6 out of 10

Marouane Fellaini:

A pretty straightforward debut for United’s only major summer recruit. He was introduced to the game with around half-an-hour to go against a tiring ten-man Crystal Palace outfit.

His fresh legs gave United renewed energy in midfield, and he was also able to showcase his crisp short passing; a facet which has been overlooked when isolating the Belgians major strengths.

Fellaini kept things simple in his United bow

He kept things simple and did enough in his 30 minutes on the field to suggest he is the most natural foil for Michael Carrick in the centre of midfield. He used his unorthodox frame to get in front of the Palace players on a couple of occasions, and that is what Moyes will be expecting more of as United face a higher calibre of opponent.

As is the case with Ozil, bigger tests will come soon, but the very early signs are promising.

Debut rating: 6.5 out of 10


Mamadou Sakho:

The £18 million signing was drafted into the side at late notice after Daniel Agger returned from international duty with a knock.

Sakho offered a presence at the back for Liverpool. Both with and without the ball.

He looked strong in the tackle and was a dominating aerial presence, making 15 successful clearances – 10 of which were with his head. In possession too, he looked supremely composed. Expect his ability to bring the ball out from the back to suit Liverpool’s style down to the ground.

Sakho gets sucked out of position in the build-up to Swansea’s opening goal. He committed a similar error for their second.

But these positives were coupled with some shaky moments. Sakho was arguably at fault for both of the Swansea goals, having been drawn towards the ball on both of occasions, leaving a massive gap between Martin Skrtel and Jose Enrique.

He will need time to gel with his teammates, and it will be interesting to see how Liverpool operate with both Sakho and Agger – both predominantly left-sided – as a central defensive partnership.

Debut rating: 6 out of 10          

Gifs courtesy of Feint Zebra 

What do you think? Let me know in the comments section or on Twitter: @MattJFootball


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One Response

  1. Illmaticinjection September 18, 2013

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