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TT's Top Men: Confident Giroud stars

Arsenal star Olivier Giroud leads the line in our Team of the Week, while Norwich's Nathan Redmond and Newcastle's Haten Ben Arfa also feature.

Last Updated: 04/09/13 at 10:43 Post Comment

John Ruddy - Norwich City

Ruddy has re-established himself as Norwich's number one following a frustrating time with injuries in 2012/13. His efforts at the start of the current campaign have also seen him drafted back into the England set-up for a crucial 2014 World Cup qualifying double-header against Moldova and Ukraine, and few would question his selection by Roy Hodgson. Ruddy underlined his status as one of the finest shot-stoppers in the business on Saturday as he helped Norwich to their first victory of the season. A collection of smart saves helped to keep Southampton at bay, while Ruddy commanded his penalty area throughout as the Canaries collected a welcome clean sheet in a 1-0 win.

Pablo Zabaleta - Manchester City

Mr Dependable on the right of Manchester City's back four, Zabaleta remains a model of consistency and a man fully deserving of the four-year contract handed to him at the Etihad Stadium over the summer. It is difficult to see how Micah Richards will be able to dislodge Zabaleta from the right-back berth, providing the Argentine steers clear of injury. He put in another thoroughly professional display against Hull City over the weekend - a contest where he figured prominently at both ends of the field. Zabaleta helped to shut out Steve Bruce's Premier League new boys and provided the cross for Alvaro Negredo to open the scoring in a 2-0 success.

Danny Gabbidon - Crystal Palace

If Crystal Palace are to steer clear of trouble during their first season back in the big time, they will need their defensive unit to provide the most solid of foundations. They boast plenty of experience in centre-back pairing Gabbidon and Damien Delaney, while Adrian Mariappa has been drafted in from Reading to help carry the load. Gabbidon should expect to be a virtual ever-present throughout the campaign, and underlined his importance with his first Premier League goal in a 3-1 victory over Sunderland. The Welshman knew little about his early effort, but was a rock at the back as he put his body on the line for the good of the collective cause - making 19 clearances and three blocks.

Laurent Koscielny - Arsenal

Still sporting a sizeable plaster over a nasty head wound suffered while on UEFA Champions League duty, Koscielny threw himself back into battle on Super Sunday as Arsenal entertained arch-rivals Tottenham. Derby dates require on-field leaders to step up to the plate, and Koscielny is becoming a key figure at Emirates Stadium. He left nothing out on the field against Spurs, with his physical approach helping to keep Roberto Soldado quiet and Andre Villas-Boas' side at arm's length. The Frenchman can overstep the mark at times, but he struck the right balance between nasty and nice over the weekend to help the Gunners to a first clean sheet of the new Premier League season.

Glen Johnson - Liverpool

With Zabaleta occupying the right-back berth in our weekly selection, Johnson - as he has done at times during his Liverpool career - slips in on the left. He may have operated on the opposite flank against Manchester United on Sunday, but his showing at Anfield is deserving of recognition in this XI and his versatility has become a useful weapon in his arsenal. Liverpool, despite claiming a third successive 1-0 victory, were far from their free-flowing best against United, but did enough to get over the line and maintain their perfect start. Johnson was their standout performer and deserves immense credit - along with the rest of his defensive colleagues - for making Liverpool watertight.

Nathan Redmond - Norwich City

Redmond arrived at Norwich over the summer with a reputation as one of the most promising performers outside of the Premier League and with a £2million price tag hanging around his neck. His early showings for the Canaries suggest they have pulled off quite a coup in securing the 19-year-old's signature, with the money they have spent on him peanuts when compared to some of the other top-flight deals. Redmond showed his class on Saturday while helping to down Southampton. He posed a constant threat to the Saints, causing Calum Chambers all sorts of problems, and opened his goal account for Norwich with a fine second-half strike from the edge of the box.

Pablo Hernandez - Swansea City

Any midfielder capped by Spain who does not play for Barcelona must be some player, and it is safe to assume that Hernandez would have made considerably more than four appearances at international level had he been born in any other country. Swansea will not be complaining about his lack of action for the reigning world champions, though, as they get him all to themselves. Hernandez forms part of a generation of Spanish schemers who are capable of unlocking the tightest of defences and turning a game on their own. He helped to steer the Swans to three points in his latest outing, providing an assist for Ben Davies' opener and lashing home the second himself in a 2-0 win at West Brom.

Mile Jedinak - Crystal Palace

Palace's need for generals in the Premier League trenches has already been covered, and they could not wish for a better leader than Jedinak. The Australian enforcer has slotted seamlessly onto the Premier League stage, with his all-action approach tailor-made for the English top flight. Jedinak appears to be at his most comfortable when the boots are flying and a full-blooded challenge is required. He is, however, also a fine reader of the game, a man blessed with great vision and an even better engine and is not afraid to get himself forward when his duties in a holding role allow. He displayed all of those qualities on Sunday as Palace landed their first points of the season.

Aaron Ramsey - Arsenal

While Arsenal started the season on an unquestionable low, during a 3-1 defeat against Aston Villa, there has been nothing but good news at Emirates Stadium since then. Four wins on the bounce have been secured at home and abroad, and players who had question marks hanging over their heads just a few weeks back are now blossoming and becoming influential figures in Arsene Wenger's plans. Ramsey certainly falls into that category. The Wales international appears to have rediscovered the form he displayed prior to a serious leg break and revelled in the responsibility of bossing things against Tottenham - particularly after Jack Wilshere was forced off through illness.

Hatem Ben Arfa - Newcastle United

Alan Pardew has often been quick to bill Ben Arfa as the one true match-winner within Newcastle's ranks, with the flying Frenchman virtually unplayable if he is in the right frame of mind. The Magpies may feel that those days do not come around often enough, but they saw their enigmatic winger steal the headlines on Saturday with a wonderful solo effort which illuminated an otherwise disappointing encounter with Fulham. Ben Arfa's wand of a left foot allowed him to drift past defenders on the edge of the box before unleashing a thunderbolt of a shot which flashed into the top corner before Cottagers keeper David Stockdale had time to react.

Olivier Giroud - Arsenal

Having already hailed the improvement in Ramsey's game during the early weeks of the season, Giroud is another Arsenal player to have broken free of the shackles which threatened to hold him back and display his true colours. The Frenchman was drafted in last summer to lead the line and get goals, and he is doing just that. Giroud's winner in a derby date with Tottenham saw him take his tally to three in as many Premier League outings. There is the promise of many more to come, especially now that Mesut Ozil will be providing the ammunition, with Giroud's fine finish with the outside of his boot against Spurs suggesting that he is brimming with confidence right now.

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C

lassic management. Build them up and then knock them back. Raise expectations and then dampen them. Create a dynamic where by you demand the most from your team, but where the team are given room to manoeuvre unexpected or unwanted results. Classy work by Van Gaal, he really reminds me a lot of me. A smart cookie, make no doubt.

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Van Gaal: 'I struggle for first three months'

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e will be the England left back for ten years or more, and then you will have to thank MUFC for that. *smiles*

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Shaw: Criticism spot on

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urely because of that little diva moment he had last night, I don't want him coming to my club. DESTROYED ? Grow up and give something back to the club that helped put you up there on the world stage.

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Saints' Schneiderlin stalemate

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