After an inauspicious start to the season, these are heady times at West Ham.
Unbeaten in six games, no goals conceded in their last four and yesterday a win over Manchester United, thanks to goals from Andriy Yarmolenko and Aaron Cresswell.
The fixture list has not been the most daunting – United were the first Big Six team West Ham had faced since their opening-day mauling at home to Manchester City, while their previous three Premier League games have been against promoted or badly struggling opponents in Aston Villa, Norwich and Watford – but it is encouraging nonetheless.
If there was something missing from the 2-0 defeat of United then it was a goal – or any real involvement – for Sebastien Haller.
The club record £45m summer signing has three goals so far but here appeared to be conspicuously under-served by team-mates.
United striker light
United’s problems are graver: they are struggling to score goals at all.
Not since the first weekend’s 4-0 win over Chelsea have they netted more than once in a game, including in matches against Wolves, Crystal Palace, Southampton and, in the Champions League, Astana.
Rarely did they worry the Hammers’ rearguard at the London Stadium and now the problem could be about to get worse. Marcus Rashford’s second-half injury means they have no fit recognised strikers.
With Anthony Martial and 17-year-old midweek saviour Mason Greenwood also sidelined, it is hard to avoid further questions about the wisdom of ushering out Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez last month without replacing them.
Auba the human shield
If you thought Sead Kolasinac fending off the knife-wielding assailants who allegedly hijacked Mesut Ozil’s car was the best example of a human shield at Arsenal, think again.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is almost single-handedly protecting under-fire manager Unai Emery from even fiercer criticism by scoring vital goal after vital goal for the Gunners this season.
Yesterday he struck the 84th-minute winner as the 10 men of Arsenal snatched victory from the jaws of defeat at home to Aston Villa.
He also got the winners against Newcastle and Burnley, the equaliser against Tottenham and both goals in last week’s draw at Watford.
In fact, his goals have directly resulted in all of his team’s 11 league points so far this term. Brilliant, but utterly unsustainable.
Howe’s Fab Four
Eddie Howe is known for attack-minded football but even by his standards Bournemouth’s line-up against Southampton on Friday was bold.
In Callum Wilson, Dominic Solanke, Josh King and Harry Wilson, Howe named four forwards in his starting XI, with Wilson and Solanke through the middle and King and Wilson raiding from wide areas.
This was in fact the second game in succession he had done so – and both this and last week’s visit of Everton ended in 3-1 wins for the Cherries.
Again, two of the goals came from Howe’s Fab Four, with Wilson doubling Bournemouth’s lead and Wilson adding a late third.
It might have been more but King’s strike, following a velvet through-ball by Solanke, was disallowed after a review.
Main image credit: Getty