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West Ham 3-1 Southampton: Nolan heroics turn Upton Park bubbly (video)

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Don’t look now, but Kevin Nolan and Sam Allardyce have West Ham United in the close to the hottest form in the Premier League, as the Hammers took care of Southampton by a 3-1 score.

Nolan scored an acrobatic insurance goal and provided a long ball assist on the go-ahead in the game.

Southampton jumped into the West Ham half straightaway and looked to have the Hammers off kilter.

And true-to-form the Saints struck, though it came from an unlikely finisher. Maya Yoshida rose to head in a free kick from Steven Davis deep in Hammers territory, giving him his first Premier League goal in his 40th Premier League appearance.

Premier League Roundup: Chelsea, Man City, Arsenal and Man United grab wins

West Ham’s next few moments found plenty of possession but little danger, but when the goal came in the 20th minute after Kevin Nolan tried a long ball over the top. Matt Jarvis, a hair offside, dashed to catch the ball on its second bounce and poked it under a sliding Artur Boruc.

And the Hammers doubled their advantage when the Saints shanks a clearing attempt comically, leading to Carlton Cole smashing as hard as he’d like from inside 12 yards. It was 2-1 the home side in the 23rd minute.

Gaston Ramirez subbed on for Southampton to decent effect, including a left footed curler that dipped after it cleared the bar.

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Adam Lallana has a brilliant chance to equalize but his foot-eye coordination betrayed him in the 69th minute. Yoshida almost found a second off a header in the 80th minute, but it was parried away for a corner.

West Ham found its third goal on 70 minutes, when Carlton Cole headed a cross into Nolan’s path that the chicken-dancing man basically bicycle-kicked home to make it 3-1 in favor of the Irons.


West Ham: Adrian, Demel, Tomkins, Collins, McCartney, Nolan (Reid, 73), Noble, Taylor, Downing, C.Cole, Jarvis (Diame, 57)

Goals: Jarvis (20), C. Cole (23), Nolan (71)

Southampton: Boruc, Chambers, Fonte, Yoshida, Shaw, Cork (Ramirez, 63), Schneiderlin, S. Davis (Ward-Prowse, 78), Lallana, Rodriguez, Lambert (Gallagher, 78)

Goals: Yoshida (8)

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.