Every week, Sportsnet.ca will chat with Sportsnet soccer commentator James Sharman about the big stories and issues in the Premier League, and preview the weekend’s games.
There’s been a few moves in the Premier League during the January transfer window. Is there one in particular you’re excited about?
The fact that a player with the credentials and reputation of Juan Iturbe has ended up at Bournemouth is both mind blowing and awesome. Yes, his time at AS Roma was dreadful and yes, clearly his stock has fallen. But come on—Iturbe and Bournemouth? This is a clear indication that the new Premier League TV deal is going to be a game-changer; this is the type of deal we should get used to, as the English clubs are going to flex some serious muscle in the coming months.
I also like Jonjo Shelvey’s move to Newcastle United. I don’t know what happened at Swansea, but this is a gifted midfielder with a wild streak, so he seems perfectly suited for the Magpies.
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What’s been your impression of Erik Lamela at Tottenham this season? Has he finally coming good after a less-than-impressive debut season in England, and does he have staying power in this league?
Lamela has become a key member for Spurs this season, and he admits it is simply a case of finally adapting to the Premier League. It seems I often write about “adapting to the Premier League” but the fact is it is a league like no other, and for a foreign player it is rarely a case of simply moving on over and playing your game.
Lamela is the poster boy for what Spurs is this year: young, talented, and a little raw. Even against Leicester this week he was generally very good, but definitely lacking in other areas. As Lamela gets more comfortable, he’ll get better and should be a big part of the Tottenham puzzle moving forward.
Manchester United have recalled Adnan Januzaj from his loan at Borussia Dortmund. How do you see him fitting in under Louis van Gaal for the rest of this season, and going forward?
Januzaj made the mistake of starting off his United career very well, and also had the disadvantage of having an option to play for England’s national team (he declined.) These two ingredients added up to a great deal of hype. No doubt he has ability and is technically very good, but does he have the drive?
His German experience was by all accounts a disaster, and as much as United could do with some play-making flair, is LVG really the right manager to let Januzaj do what he does best? Unlikely. Expect to see another loan here.
Everton visits Chelsea on Saturday. What’s your take on the Blues since Guus Hiddink has taken over?
Over all it’s a case of “meh.” Yes, they are better than they had been, but that appears to be down to more urgency and a hunger that was missing under Jose Mourinho. That is a damning indictment on this group of players.
I am curious what goes through Mourinho’s mind when he see’s Diego Costa playing well, and Cesc Fabregas splitting defences with great passes. Seems that change for the sake of change was needed, which points a whole lot of fingers at a whole lot of players. This squad needs an over haul this summer.
Stoke City hosts Arsenal on Sunday. How much of a blown opportunity was that by the Gunners vs. Liverpool in midweek? Critics say if you want to be champions you have to win games like that?
It was a missed opportunity no doubt, but far from a disaster. It is easy to hammer Arsenal for conceding a late goal after such a great match, as it does seem rather typical.
Truth is, it’s quite unlike Arsenal this year, who have finally shown some real back bone. Such is this season, there are still many odd results and strange performances to grapple with, so as much as three points would have been very important I don’t think it really has much bearing.