Giroud’s capital gains made easy by Fulham free spirits
One of the weekend’s most striking statistics was that all of Olivier Giroud’s 13 Premier League goals for Arsenal have come in London.
Yet the manner of Arsenal’s 3-1 victory at Craven Cottage on Saturday suggested Giroud will not be the only forward relishing visiting one particular riverside spot in the capital this season. In front of new owner Shahid Khan, Martin Jol’s side were opened up with disconcerting ease by Arsenal’s counterattacking thrusts, leaving Harry Redknapp on Match of the Day to question the surplus of “free spirits” in the Fulham side, and giving some context to an impressive-looking Arsenal victory.
Foster’s injury could prove to be a worry for Hodgson
West Brom manager Steve Clarke will not be alone in hoping that the injury that forced Ben Foster off at Goodison Park is not too serious. Foster, in Clarke’s words, heard a “pop” in his foot towards the end of the game when he had performed well in front of England manager Roy Hodgson, with saves from Kevin Mirallas and Marouane Fellaini that earned a goalless draw. Given Joe Hart’s latest wobble at Cardiff yesterday, an in-form Foster – whom Hodgson persuaded to return from a self-imposed international exile earlier this year – is vital to provide competition to the Manchester City goalkeeper.
Osvaldo’s no saint but well worth a gamble for Pochettino
Southampton broke their transfer record three times this summer, most recently with £15m for Daniel Pablo Osvaldo from Roma. He is a goalscorer – with 16 strikes in Serie A last term – but his debut on Saturday suggests he may occupy referees as well as goalkeepers. Sent off three times in two years in Rome, he could have earned an eighth career red. Booked for a trip on Modibo Diakite, he was lucky to escape further after a challenge on Adam Johnson minutes later. Mauricio Pochettino knows what he’s working with, having managed him at Espanyol.
No signings and no local boys add to St James’ Park misery
It is hard to think of a Premier League stadium where early-season optimism is more scarce than at St James’ Park. The locals saw their team fail to score at home for the fourth game running in Saturday’s stalemate with West Ham, a match that Yohan Cabaye refused to play in and which featured an early miss-of-the-season contender when Yoan Gouffran failed to score from two yards. “Where’s the signings, Joe Kinnear?” was one chant but it is also worth asking where are the young players in a football-mad region after, for the second game running, Newcastle started with just one Englishman.