Giroud had a day to forget, as the Frenchman worked hard but left his shooting boots at home.

Premier League Roundup: Gunners-Red Devils stalemate, Liverpool gain ground, Spurs impress at Newcastle

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Wednesday’s focus was destined to be at the top of the table, with Chelsea’s Tuesday slip at West Brom opening the door for Arsenal and Manchester City. But when the Gunners were held by a rival at the Emirates and City’s game was called off, Liverpool ended up the big beneficiary of Chelsea’s misstep. After a comeback win at Craven Cottage, the Reds are only four points off the top.

While those may have been the day’s most important results, the most impressive came at St. James’ Park. Continuing their rise under Tim Sherwood, Spurs posted a lopsided result on Newcastle, who have now been outscored 10-0 in their last three games.

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With weather forcing two matches to be postponed, Wednesday may not have been as busy as anticipated, but with the title race continuing to tighten, the close of the mid-week match day still helped intensify the drama at the top of the Premier League.

Here’s the lowdown:

Arsenal 0-0 Manchester United

Given how Arsène Wenger and David Moyes have approached recent big games, this result is more unsatisfying than outright surprising. With neither team showing the urgency you’d expect given their places in the table, both sides were left a disappointing result. Arsenal missed their chance to exploit a weaker opponent to go first in the Premier League, while United failed to take advantage of a relatively reserved Arsenal to keep up with Liverpool.

Fulham 2-3 Liverpool

Kolo Touré’s comical own goal put the visitors down early, but thanks to a long ball from Steve Gerrard that put Daniel Sturridge in on goal, Liverpool was able to equalize just before intermission. Goals from Kieran Richardson and Philippe Coutinho had the sides even in the 72nd minute, but just before full-time, a Sescha Riether foul on Sturridge in the right of the Fulham area gave Liverpool a reward for their control. Finishing off David Stockdale’s right upright, Gerrard gave Liverpool a 3-2 win that pulled them within four points of Chelsea at the top of the table.

Newcastle 0-4 Tottenham

Spurs pounced on a third straight disappointing performance by Newcastle to stay within three points of Liverpool for England’s final Champions League spot. Two more goals from Emmanuel Adebayor along with tallies from Paulinho and Nacer Chadli sent the Magpies to their worst loss since the season’s opening round,  leaving Newcastle unable to reclaim eighth place from Southampton

Stoke City 1-1 Swansea City

An early goal from Peter Crouch send the Potters into halftime up one, but seven minutes into the second half, Swansea capitalized on their large edge in possession to score through Chico Flores. With close calls from Wilfried Bony and Jonathan De Guzman late, the visitors had two chances to take full points. Come full-time, Stoke had pushed their unbeaten streak to three while Swansea claimed their second result under player-coach Garry Monk.


Everton vs. Crystal Palace
Manchester City vs. Sunderland

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.

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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.