Fifty goals on, it might be time for a revaluation of the much-maligned French striker. Olivier Giroud is doing this season what Alexis Sanchez did last year: lifting Arsenal upon his back and carrying them. This past week was one of his best with a hat-trick in Greece, and then the winner from the spot against Villa. He’s become a reliable scorer for the Gunners in a year they were supposed to be lacking one. Yes, it helps having Mesut Ozil give you the ball. Still, give the big guy some credit.
Getty ImagesJames Baylis - AMA
Are Newcastle (finally) on the rise?
Two big wins a row, dropping Liverpool and Spurs, have Steve McClaren’s men out of the drop zone at last. The Magpies are hardly out of the woods (though it is amusing to see them above Chelsea in the table) and they next face a true six-pointer against a seemingly-doomed Villa. What they have shown, at last, is a desire to win games. McClaren cautions the “corner has not been turned” but Newcastle are in far better shape this week than they were last.
Getty ImagesSteve Bardens
Manchester United in crisis
For a quarter billion pounds, you’d think United would look a bit better than this. But the Red Devils haven’t won a game since before Thanksgiving, and were bounced out of Europe this week before being smoked by minnows Bournemouth. OK, United have several winnable fixtures ahead – Norwich, Stoke, Chelsea and Swansea – but they need to find goals from somewhere. And, if the rumors that the dressing room has quit on manager Louis van Gaal are true, expect things to get worse before they improve.
Man Utd via Getty ImagesJohn Peters
Klopp’s antics raise eyebrows
Liverpool’s manager is many things, but “introvert” is not one of them. Still, Klopp drew some amused sneers this weekend when he led sheepish members of his team out to salute the fans at the Kop end – after a 2-2 draw. Some of that is English stuffiness, mind you – but some of it suggests how big a task Klopp truly faces. If a draw with Albion is worth a celebration, what does that say about the Reds’ upcoming games against the top four?
AFP/Getty ImagesOLI SCARFF
Chelsea, left for dead
When will Chelsea losses cease to be a surprise? The Blues are now just a point off the drop zone and are in a relegation battle, regardless of their European success. Teams no longer fear them. At King Power Monday, Leicester mercilessly exposed how poor their back four are. But the Chelsea malaise goes deeper: this team appears to simply have quit playing for Jose Mourinho. A reckoning for the manager is surely coming.