Premier League

Giroud primed

Sky Sports Fantasy Football's Pete Hall believes a fresh Olivier Giroud is the right man to fire some points

Olivier Giroud: Expected to have a good weekend

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After a welcome mid-season break, Olivier Giroud made a goalscoring return to the Arsenal line-up in their narrow win over Aston Villa and, with the visit of a beleaguered Fulham ahead, the French hitman is ready to accept the responsibility of the Sky Sports Fantasy Football armband this weekend.

Arsene Wenger saw his side return to the top of the Premier League table after a hard-fought victory on Monday night, with a neat Giroud finish key to that result.

At £8.5m, Giroud represents excellent value, being the focal point of the Gunners' attack, and is in excellent touch this season.

With nine goals and five assists at this juncture in a Premier League season, the former Montpellier star has silenced the doubters after a laboured start to life at the Emirates.

Saturday's opponents, Fulham, have never won at Arsenal in any competition, losing 22 out of 27 encounters, and will be in all sorts of disarray after a woeful showing in their last league outing, surrendering 4-1 at home to bottom-of-the-table Sunderland.

Giroud has three goals in three appearances against the Cottagers and, with Mesut Ozil (£8.8m) alongside, who has already laid on eight assists despite being in his 'transition' period at the club, all the tools are there for the Frenchman to shine.

After a 16 point return in the win at Villa, Jack Wilshere (£6.2m) seems to be relishing more of a central role in Wenger's side and will look to create from deep.

Despite Arsenal being overwhelming favourites in the Sky Bet match market, Fulham will be looking to build on their FA Cup win in midweek, with Dimitar Berbatov (£8.6m) spearheading any faint hope boss Rene Meulensteen has of gaining a result at the Emirates.

The enigmatic forward sat out the tie against Norwich City on Tuesday, but with Arsenal heavily linked with the Bulgarian, he will be keen to impress.

Title rivals Manchester City continued their prolific 2013/14 with another 5-0 rout of Championship side Blackburn Rovers on Wednesday in their FA Cup replay - the sixth time they have scored five or more at the Etihad in all competitions already this season.

Their astounding home form is showing no sign of relenting and, with Alvaro Negredo (£8.6m) fresh from scoring twice on Wednesday, Saturday's visitors, Cardiff City, will certainly be up against it.

Jesus Navas (£7.6m) and David Silva (£8.6m) already have 11 assists combined to their names, leaving Negredo and partner Edin Dzeko very little to do other than find the back of the net.

Elsewhere, Nikica Jelavic (£8m) will be looking to make the most of the new lease of life given to him by Steve Bruce when Hull City travel to Norwich on Saturday.

The Croatian did not have the best of times at Everton and his move east to Hull could reap rewards, with him likely to be the focal point of the Tigers' attack.

Sunderland winger Adam Johnson's hat-trick surprised us all at the weekend, and bagged the 26-year-old 24 points, and the visit of a Southampton side with mounting off-field problems on Saturday could give Johnson the platform to pick up where he left off.

Defensively, Liverpool will be hoping to maintain their solid home form when the Reds welcome Aston Villa to Anfield live on Sky Sports Saturday Night Football.

Liverpool have conceded just six goals in their last 12 Premier League matches at Anfield and have kept six clean sheets in that run.

The ever-present Martin Skrtel (£6.3m) and Glen Johnson (£7.2m) will be crucial to shutting out Villa, who will look to build on their second-half improvement against Arsenal last Monday.

Everton have been very reliant on goals from defenders this season. The Toffees' rearguard have contributed 10 goals already this season - more than the strikers at 11 Premier League clubs.

Seamus Coleman has been especially prolific, already contributing five goals. He leads the way for defenders with a colossal 104 points so far and will look to add to that at West Bromwich Albion on Monday night.