THERE’S been plenty of number crunching over Andy Carroll and Michael Owen.
But the figures the fans of West Ham and Stoke will be most interested in are the number of goals each can get.
It’s a massive, and costly, blow to West Ham that Carroll (inset) was injured during an impressive debut against Fulham.
It’s also a setback to the player himself, who seems desperate to get a once highly promising career back on track.
He seemed destined for big things when Liverpool splashed the cash to bring him in from Newcastle.
But the departure of Kenny Dalglish and arrival of Brendan Rodgers changed everything.
It says something about the way Liverpool have been operating that they have loaned out someone who cost £35m – and failed to bring in a replacement.
West Ham, who paid a £1m fee to a facilitate a season-long arrangement which apparently gives them first option on a permanent deal, will really benefit from having a physical presence like Carroll offers.
So they will be hoping his hamstring heals in less than the six weeks it’s estimated he could be out.
As for Owen, he hasn’t played much football of late, although Stoke manager Tony Pulis has pointed out it’s not because of fitness issues.
That said, the striker has missed out on a proper pre-season, so will take time to get up to speed.
There’s no doubt that Owen is an excellent player – just look at the stats – but there will be concern among Stoke supporters at the way his career has drifted in recent years.
Pulis proved he has an eye for a good deal by taking Peter Crouch to the Potteries.
Hopefully Owen will prove as effective.
APPARENTLY wingers are an increasingly rare species.
It’s not what I’d have wanted to hear when I was playing.
But if some experts are to be believed, the men who patrol the touchlines and supply the deliveries for the frontmen to put away are being replaced by fleet-footed midfielders who are being given the right to roam – and score goals themselves.
It all started, we’re told, with the likes of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez – smaller players who are fast, elusive and well aware of everything going on around them.
We’ve seen the effect of David Silva, Samir Nasri and Juan Mata, and three of the most talked-about summer arrivals in the Premier League fall into the category.
Eden Hazard has made a major contribution to Chelsea’s flying start to the campaign.
Across London at Arsenal, Santi Cazorla’s early input suggests Arsene Wenger could rake back the £12m he paid Malaga in the form of some Spanish gold.
And up at Old Trafford, where Manchester United look capable of making a very solid bid to reclaim the title, Japanese star Shinji Kagawa has caught the eye.
At £17m, the man who helped Borussia Dortmund to a German double last season looks like money well spent by the old master Sir Alex Ferguson.
It was interesting to hear a former Fergie favourite, Gary Neville, say that as a full-back, he would have found it very hard to track the likes of Hazard, Cazorla and Kagawa, because they don’t follow the normal ‘rules’ of a traditional winger.
Add into the mix players like Michu at Swansea and Gaston Ramires, the Uruguayan ace Southampton have just smashed their transfer record to recruit for £12m, and it’s clear opponents are going to have to work hard to find a way to stop this type of player.
It’s very early days, but the top flight looks like it’s going to be intriguing this time around.
Manchester City still seem to be the bookies’ favourites, but the odds on United and Chelsea have shortened.
And with Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud freshening things up at the Emirates, could an Arsenal side yet to concede a goal in the league emerge as genuine contenders?
GOOD LUCK to Andrew Gale and the boys at Yorkshire as they aim to clinch promotion back to the First Division of cricket’s County Championship at the first attempt.
They have every incentive ahead of this week’s must-win final game of the season against Essex.
The action at Chelmsford gets under way tomorrow, and the convincing manner of the victory over Glamorgan at Headingley last week should give the boys plenty of confidence.
Galey, of course, is a big Town fan who certainly enjoyed our promotion from League I.
Hopefully we’ll be sending him our congratulations soon!
Meanwhile, good luck to Andrew Flintoff as he pursues a career as a professional boxer.
It takes real guts to go into the fight game, especially when you’re already a well-known name in another sport.
I’m not sure it would be my career choice!