LONDON: Lukas Podolski produced his best performance so far as Arsenal crushed Southampton6-1 to put a smile back on the face of Arsene Wenger after weeks, months and even years in which his managerial judgment has come under question.

Heavyweight clashes against Manchester Cityand Chelsea followTuesday’s visit toMontpellier but Wenger sees no reason for undue concern.

The Gunners had all three points effectively sewn up at the interval after own goals from Jos Hooiveld and Nathaniel Clyne and strikes by Podolski – a direct free kick – and Gervinho handed the Gunners a commanding lead.

Danny Fox pulled one back only thanks to a goalkeeping blunder by Wojciech Szczesny. That was the first goal Arsenal had conceded in 315 minutes this season.

Gervinho and Theo Walcott – playing against his old club – followed up with more goals in the second half as Arsenal extended their unbeaten start to the season to four league games, moving up to third place, two points behind Chelsea and one behind Manchester United.

Wenger said: Of course it is good when new signings start well and score a goal. Arsenal have had many great players so the new signings have to convince people that they can follow and be the same. I’m sure that in time these new players we have brought in will prove to the fans that they have the ability to play for us.

“Everyone understood Cazorla would not need six months to settle in – I am pleased for him. For the first goal it was good to get Podolski in with a chance on his strong left foot. It is a very encouraging start.”

Almost a year after the racist comment storm began, no signs of peace are evident between QPR defender Anton Ferdinand and Chelsea’s John Terry. Ferdinand, younger brother of Manchester United’s Rio, ignored both theChelseacaptain and Ashley Cole at the pre-match handshake before their goalless draw atLoftus Road.

This was the first time Ferdinand and Terry have met on a football field since the Chelsea captain was cleared by a court of charges of having made a racist comment in the same game last year.

Cole gave evidence on behalf of Terry however Terry remains under the shadow of a Football Association investigation into the incident.

Ferdinand rejected the offer of his two rivals’ outstretched hands before Saturday’s game as did his captain Park Ji-Sung. By contrast Jose Bosignwa, who left Chelsea for QPR during the summer, not only shook hands but gave his former team-mate a hug.

Paul Scholes scored on his 700th Manchester United appearance and Alexander Buttner and Nick Powell netted on their Red Devils debuts in a 4-0 win over Wigan. United took control after a goalless first half in which Javier Hernandez had a first-half penalty saved by Ali Al Habsi. The Mexican made amends with United’s second goal.

Dimitar Berbatov marked his first start and home debut for Fulham with two first-half goals, one from the penalty spot, in their 3-0 win over a West Bromwich Albion side reduced to 10 men between Berbatov’s goals by the expulsion of Peter Odemwingie for kicking out at Sascha Riether.

Steve Sidwell scored Fulham’s third a minute from time after a Hugo Rodallega effort had hit the bar.

Paul Lambert gestured to the fans to cheer the players, not him, after Aston Villa secured their first league win of the season by 2-0 over Swansea. Summer signing Matthew Lowton opened his Villa account with an early volley while substitute Christian Benteke scored two minutes from time.

Luis Suarez saved only Liverpool’s second point of the season in a 1-1 draw at Sunderland. The Uruguayan, booked earlier for diving, struck 19 minutes from time to cancel out Steven Fletcher’s first-half opener.

Liverpool’s players all wore the number 96 on their tracksuits in the pre-match warm-up. This followed Wednesday’s release of an independent report which cleared fans of any blame for the 1989 Hillsborough disaster in which 96 fans died because of police incompetence.

In the lunchtime kick-off, Norwich and West Ham played out a 0-0 draw at Carrow Road.


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