Five EPL Players That Need To Step It Up In 2014/15


As each season ends, certain players will feel they could have done more or fans will look at them and think they under performed this season. The good thing about football is that the close season is pretty short and that players can look forward to a new campaign and see it as a chance to right a few wrongs.

So I’ve decided to pick out five players from last term that could and should have a bigger impact on their clubs fortunes this time around.

Mesut Ozil – Arsenal 

A lot was expected of the German maestro when he was signed up by the Gunners in a £42m deal last summer. He was supposed to come in and take the whole Premier League by storm. He started off well and impressed with his touch and vision. His stats were impressive too, starting twenty-five league games, scoring five goals and creating nine assists.

In fairness it might seem harsh to have Ozil on this list as he was one of the top ten best creative performers in the league last term. But in truth he didn’t quite live up to the billing. He should be in the top three best players in the league, he has the tools to be one of the best. In his first EPL season he seemed to tire as the campaign went on and he became less effective. When the Gunners needed him the most in the bigger matches Ozil seemed to go missing.

But he has had a year to get used to his surroundings now and get more familiar with the strong minded English game. Arsene Wenger has also helped by bringing in Alexis Sanchez, a player with runs that will make Mesut’s mouth water. He also comes back to Arsenal with the confidence of being a World Champion.

Hopefully Mesut Ozil has a flawless season, scores more goals and creates even more heavenly passes!


Chris Smalling – Manchester United

In his debut season at Old Trafford, Smalling looked like a real bargain at £12m. He would fill in for Rio Ferdinand or Nemanja Vidic and not look out of place. He was a composed and skilful defender with a smart head on his shoulders.

Fast forward a few seasons and Smalling began to look more like Bambi on ice than an assured England international centre-half. His passes were sloppy and a lot of his tackling was mistimed. Like quite a few at Man Utd, Smalling seemed to take the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson hard and it unsettled him greatly on the pitch. Another problem was that the defender was rotated continuously from central defence to right back to the bench. That too stalled his development. Even as Vidic and Ferdinand aged, Smalling and Phil Jones couldn’t cement their names into the team sheet.

Probably more worryingly for the United bigwigs was that the once so smart Smalling was now getting himself on the front pages of the press with silly selfies and late night partying.

The twenty-four year old now has another chance, possibly his last with Louis van Gaal now in charge. The Dutch coach will hopefully re-enforce the values of concentration and discipline that can see Smalling flourish again at Old Trafford. With Ferdinand and Vidic now departed it’s time for Jones and Smalling to grow up and prove their worth.


Erik Lamela – Tottenham

When Spurs signed Argentine Lamela last season for £30m, many thought that he’d immediately replace Gareth Bale. That was naive to say the least. He joined as a twenty-one year old that needed time to adapt to his new surroundings and a new league. Last season was always going to be a bedding in period for Lamela.

That said, the Tottenham fans did deserve to see more from the forward. Only nine outings in the EPL was a poor stat, as was his seventeen in all competitions and only a single goal return. At Roma he excited and in London that hasn’t happened yet. But his season was marred with fitness issues and a change in management and tactics.

If you look at his time in Rome, he was far superior in his second season in Serie A than he was in his first. Hopefully that will be true of his English stay too. If fellow Argentine Mauricio Pochettino can use him in his best position and playing regularly, then expect Lamela to take off and shine with flamboyant, meaningful displays.


Gaston Ramirez – Southampton

With so many stars leaving Southampton, the time has come for Ramirez to step up and prove himself as a top player. He seemed to start well at St Mary’s following his £12m move from Bologna in 2012. But he soon found himself falling behind the likes of Adam Lallana and Jay Rodriguez as the main creative forces at the club.

Now with Lallana gone and Rodriguez injured, Ramirez could come in as the new attacking maestro that keeps the Saints ticking. New boss Ronald Koeman could also prove vital in reigniting the Uruguayan’s career in the EPL.

Has the ability to become one of the leagues top playmakers but the twenty-three year old now needs to start realising that potential. An in-form Gaston Ramirez could just be what Southampton needs as they start life without Lallana and Co this term.

For Ramirez to shine, he needs to start imposing himself on games. He’ll need to constantly be in search of the ball, finding space, hitting the right pass and even adding more goals to his game.


Steven Fletcher – Sunderland 

Injuries seemed to hamper Fletcher last season as he struggled to make an impact with Sunderland. But after a good preseason the Scottish striker will be hoping that he can hit the ground running in 2014/15.

I think Gus Poyet still needs to be convinced that Steven is capable of leading the line but if Steven can prove he’s ready to add to his forty-four EPL sttikes then that will be a good start. He is a striker when on-form is hard to handle and keep quiet as long as he can get minutes on the park. Has a talent in finding space in the area and has good technique in the air as well as on the ground.

If fit and hungry, then for me Steven Fletcher is Sunderland’s best hitman and will be capable of helping them to a higher finish than last terms fourteenth spot.

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