Arsenal v Newcastle United - Premier League

Arsenal’s 7-3 clubbing seals a mighty day of EPL goal-scoring


Saturday’s dandy day in English Premier League soccer began with Tottenham’s 2-1 win over Sunderland … and who knew that would be one of the low-scoring contests of the day?

The primary number to consider here is 35 – as in total number of goals in England’s top flight today. It all ended with a stunning result in the late game, Arsenal’s 7-3 win over defensively challenged Newcastle.

It was really a 4-3 or 5-3 match at the Emirates in the way it played out; it was 3-3 with about 20 minutes remaining. But when Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud hooked up for a brilliant strike in the 85th, Newcastle lost its will and allowed two more to drop before it was over.

Heck, it could have been worse as Giroud banged one off the post almost five minutes into injury time.

Rob Smyth of The Guardian, live blogging from the game, said it like this: “I would summarise this game, but I have plans to leave work before 2013. In short, Theo Walcott had the time of his life.”

Walcott (pictured, on left) had a hat trick – more on that and the significance of it later. Meanwhile, consider these numbers.

  • This was Walcott’s second hat trick in league play.
  • The 10-spot at the Emirates was just one off a Premier League record for goals in a one match.
  • Third time this year for Arsenal to score five goals or more at home
  • For Newcastle, what an awful and painful week. Alan Pardew’s club scored six goals in two matches this week against some of the best of the Premier League (Manchester United and Arsenal) and come away with zero points. That, in fact, is the first time an EPL side has scored at least three in consecutive league matches and not recorded at least a point.

Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]

There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?

Olivier Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott

Olivier Giroud, France
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Is it just me, or does the press really only ever get noteworthy quotes from players during international breaks?

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I suppose it’s not surprising, given Premier League players get away from the mean ole British press, go back to their respective homelands and speak with journalists they’ve likely known since their early playing days, thus feel more comfortable opening up about key issues.

Anyway, today we have Olivier Giroud essentially calling himself out for having lost the starting striker’s job at Arsenal because he’s been outplayed of late by Theo Walcott. As discussed before, this is bad news for Giroud because he’s now falling down the depth chart for France with next summer’s European Championship on the horizon.

[ MORE: Aguero admits he wants Guardiola link-up ]

Giroud, on losing his place at Arsenal — quotes from the Guardian:

“At Arsenal, I am in competition with Theo for the striker position. But he is doing well at the moment, so there is no reason to change.

“Whether it was at Tours, Montpellier or Arsenal, I have never experienced a situation like this, I have often played from the start. I need to take positives and to harden myself mentally. It is something new for me.

“I was in [Walcott’s] place in previous seasons at Arsenal. I imagine what he must have been thinking. But I feel that the coach believes in me.”

Giroud goes on to cast into doubt his own confidence, stating in very certain terms he needs “to believe more in [his] abilities.” Giroud’s always come across as a bit of an existentialist, but it’s always strange to hear players publicly call themselves out — particularly their confidence — as if that’s not going to increase the pressure currently weighing down on them.

[ MORE: Rodgers reportedly chosen to take over at Aston Villa ]

The next eight months are going to be monumentally important in Giroud’s career, as the 29-year-old attempts to prove he’s worth keeping around at Arsenal and deserving of a place in the national team squad for next summer’s EUROs, which are to be played in France.