Because it’s nice to be positive and in a continuation of last week’s theme, let’s take a look at five individuals who had reason to cheer after match week 10 in this season’s Premier League (spoiler alert: Jose and Zlatan don’t feature)
Remember him? The Arsenal and France striker has been MIA for Arsenal so far this season. On Saturday though, Arsene Wenger finally turned to the man who has reached double figures in terms of goal scoring in each of his five seasons in England but whom hasn’t completed ninety minutes for the Gunners since bagging a hat trick against Aston Villa on the last day of last term. Again used as a substitute in what was his first league appearance in more than a month, Giroud gladly took advantage of Sunderland’s woeful defending to help himself to a couple of goals at the Stadium of Light. The brace took him just seven minutes to score following his introduction. Giroud might have to get used life as Arsenal’s plan B for the rest of the season but with injuries, suspensions and lack of form all likely to play a part between now and May, it doesn’t mean he won’t still be asked to make a significant contribution
Having been thumped 4-1 by both Liverpool and Manchester United and then losing 3-0 at Chelsea in league games preceding Champions League ties, questions were being asked (including by yours truly) as to whether this whole “prioritising the Champions League” thing wasn’t a little foolish on the part of Leicester and there manager. Saturday’s point at White Hart Lane went someway to silencing those critics. Ranieri had plenty of reasons to cheer the result, not least the fact that it maintains his unbeaten league record against Tottenham. The fact that Ahmed Musa has now started chipping in with goals is another big plus for the Champions.
Middlesbrough earned perhaps the most welcome win of the weekend. Their 2-0 home success against Bournemouth marked the first league victory for Aitor Karanka’s men since the opening day of the season and lifted them up to the dizzying heights of 14th. Gaston Ramirez was the star of the show for Boro, his frankly outrageous individual effort has to rank up there with the best goals scored in the Premier League so far this season. Ramirez clearly loves life on Teeside, he looks a totally different player to the expensive flop who Southampton were so keen to get rid of. The next step is to add goals on a more regular basis – Saturday’s was his first in the Premier League since he scored for Hull at Sunderland on Boxing Day 2014.
The Burnley goalkeeper is a beast. Heaton is a massive presence, literally and metaphorically, in the Clarets goal. He’s been outstanding all season but on Saturday produced what must surely rank alongside the best performances of his career. Heaton’s third clean sheet of the season was hard earned, he made 11 saves in the game, equalling the record in the Premier League this season, set by, erm…..Tom Heaton against Southampton. That the performance came against the club who let him go without handing him a single appearance must have made it all the sweeter.
This is not an original comment but: Victor Moses has been the surprise of the season. Not only is this a player who, prior to this season, has been nowhere near the Chelsea first team for literally years, it’s a player who over the last three campaigns has failed to hold down a place at Liverpool, Stoke or West Ham. Antonio Conte deserves huge praise for taking a chance on Moses but it’s the Nigerian himself who should get the firmest pat on the back. From a career that was going nowhere fast to becoming a key component in a team a point off the top of the Premier League table in just a couple of months, Moses progress has been as shocking as it has been rapid. He’s now one of the first names on the Italian’s team sheet and the prospect of him losing his place to the fit again Branislav Ivanovic seems remote, to put it mildly.