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Plays of the Day: Same old Arsenal...

ESPN staff
April 20, 2013
Olivier Giroud chalked up Arsenal's fifth red card of the season © Getty Images
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Same old Arsenal...

During the earlier years of Arsene Wenger's Arsenal reign, when the Gunners boasted a rather meaner midfield than the well-groomed trio of Mikel Arteta, Santi Cazorla and Tomas Rosicky, Arsenal used to have something of a reputation for red cards and the occasional piece of downright thuggery.

Over recent years that reputation has been shed, but guess which team have had more red cards than any other this season? Yes, following Olivier Giroud's (somewhat harsh) sending-off at Fulham Wenger's men have now had five dismissals this season, and Craven Cottage appears a relative hotbed of misguided passion after the fixture threw up its fourth red card in the last three meetings between the two sides.

The cycle goes on

A sporting icon retired this week when Sir Chris Hoy decided to hang up his pedals after a career that yielded six Olympic gold medals.

Hoy was, of course, the man mistaken once upon a time for Chris Foy, Premier League referee and occasional hate figure of football fans. The world of Twitter saw Hoy receive unintended abuse back in December 2011, when he tweeted: "Getting some rather amusing grief from Spurs fans! Just for the record 1) I don't need glasses and 2) I do not lead a double life as a ref. That's Chris Foy."

Well, Sir Chris will be pleased to know 'normal' Chris is doing rather better nowadays, getting a first-half call spot-on at Loftus Road. Adel Taarabt was felled right on the edge of the area, Harry Redknapp cried "penalty", but Foy was right to give a free-kick.

Handy Andy

Liverpool's money men must be rubbing their hands together; Andy Carroll has played a blinder for them. The England man played a direct part in a West Ham goal for the fifth time in their last four matches on Saturday, as the Hammers beat Wigan 2-0.

Paolo Di Canio was satisfied with Sunderland's winner against Everton © PA Photos
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When £35 million Carroll was released on loan by Liverpool, it felt like a no-win situation for the Reds. If he left and succeeded, Brendan Rodgers would look a fool for not keeping him. If he left and flopped, so would his value.

However, Carroll's spell has played out perfectly for the Merseysiders, who have seen him disappear off the face of the earth for months, only to grab headlines galore before the summer window - when somebody will be foolish enough to offer them many millions for his services.

Any chance West Ham want Downing on loan next season?

Gordon Bennett!

There's a chance this pun has been used before. There is even a chance we at ESPN Towers have been the ones to use it. But we're going to shamelessly do it again.

Norwich, locked at 0-0 with fellow strugglers Reading, suddenly swiped the game out of the Royals' grasp in a two-minute blitz, with both goals coming from a man called Bennett. Ryan bagged the first before namesake Elliott netted the second… leaving Reading boss Nigel Adkins to shout "Gordon…"

You got it.

Harry Hou?

Whenever Harry Redknapp does something right, newspapers across the country drag out the Harry Houdini line like the guy is some sort of magician. But what about when the QPR boss gets it wrong?

Prior to Rangers' 2-0 loss to Stoke - which all but assures relegation - Redknapp's win percentage was a measly 20%. That's level with Mark Hughes, and level with Neil Warnock. Redknapp may be more likeable than both men, but an added defeat on Saturday makes his percentage even worse.

New nickname needed please.

D...I...Canio

And just in case you were wondering what Paolo Di Canio's celebrations were like after victory over Everton... we've provided a picture on the right. (To avoid confusion, we should point out he didn't score the goal himself)

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