It's six weeks out for United's top-scoring striker.

Robin van Persie injury could see him miss the rest of the season

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Robin van Persie, who injured his knee in Manchester United’s 3-0 victory over Olympiakos on Wednesday, now faces up to six weeks on the sidelines. That means the striker will miss April’s two legged tie with Bayern Munich and, potentially, the remainder of the Premier League season.

The injury to United’s leading scorer couldn’t have come at a worse time. Currently seventh in the Premier League table, the Red Devils are currently three points from the Europa League spots. With almost no hope of qualifying for next season’s Champions League – unless they defy all odds and lift this year’s trophy – David Moyes was counting on a late season run to at least secure a spot in Europe’s second tournament.

The United manager was also hoping, we can assume, that his side could somehow upset reigning champions Bayern in the Champions League quarter-finals. But now he’ll be without van Persie for both legs of the vital tie, making that task seem even more daunting.

Manchester United will also be missing the Dutchman for next week’s midweek clash with Manchester City, who thrashed United 4-1 at the Etihad back in September. The hosts may have been hoping for better success this time around, particularly as Sergio Agüero, who scored twice for the Citizens last time around, is out with injury.

On paper, the rest of United’s run in looks rather gentle. They face West Ham in Saturday’s late match, then Aston Villa come to town on the other side of the game against City. Then it’s Newcastle, Everton, Norwich, Sunderland and Hull before the season wraps up at Southampton. Just one of those sides – Everton – is above United in the table, while Newcastle is the only other side that beat the Red Devils earlier in the season.

If Manchester United beat the six sides that they beat earlier in the year, the Europa League dream could be alive and well. But can they do it without van Persie, who’s already scored 11 league goals this season? And, perhaps more importantly, will they be able to make any impression on Bayern without the man that’s bagged four goals in the Champions League?

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.