The first ten minutes of Mediawatch's morning were lovely. It made itself a pot of coffee, said hello to weird Ron from the IT department, and then sat down at its desk with the feeling that today is going to be a great day.
And then it turned to the MailOnline and the headline 'Lost and lazy Ozil might have cost Arsenal £42.5m but he isn't worth two-bob...and he's nicking a living'.
Buckle up and prepare for a tonne of bulls**t, people...
'At £42.5m Mesut Ozil is the most expensive export in the history of German football. After his performance in Munich you wouldn't pay two-bob for him,' begins Neil Ashton.
'Ozil, the highest-paid player in the history of Arsenal, is nicking a living.'
It was at this point that Mediawatch checked what time the article was published. Ah, 21.20 on Tuesday evening. Somebody quite clearly hadn't spotted - and hadn't bothered to enquire - that Ozil was injured, with a couple of hastily re-written paragraphs shoe-horned in to point out that the playmaker will now be out for "a few weeks".
But Ashton doesn't let such trivial details derail his character assassination.
'In the Allianz Arena, against the world's best club side, he had a face on him like a slapped backside until he was substituted at the break. He was lucky to get to half-time,' he continues.
'The days when he drifted in and out of games with Real are behind him. Now he just looks like a lost soul, lazy and disinterested.'
He was injured, Neil. And he was asked to play out of position against the strongest team in world football because of the many other injuries at Arsenal. And he was man of the match in the 4-1 win over Everton at the weekend in the FA Cup - Arsenal's best chance of silverware this season.
But yes, you're right. He isn't worth two-bob and he is nicking a living. The dreamwrecking bastard.
Journalists like to discuss what angle they're going to write about when attending big games, in order to avoid taking a view from left field that will look a bit daft the following morning. So presumably Neil Ashton and John Cross were in cahoots at half time on Tuesday, as the Daily Mirror man also launches into Mesut Ozil on Wednesday.
'Ozil and Out' farts the Mirror's headline. '£42m Gunner flops again on night of Euro misery.'
Writes 'Crossy' on the back page: 'The German star was hauled off at half-time as Arsenal claimed he had a tight hamstring.
'And that came after the £42million record signing was unable to bury the memory of his first-leg nightmare with another woeful display.'
Hmmm. We'll stop you there, John. He probably wasn't 'hauled off' because such rough treatment would surely have further aggravated his injury. You know, the hamstring strain that means he'll be out for weeks? Oh wait, that was only something that Arsenal 'claimed'. CONSPIRACY!
(Speaking of which, The Sun's Shaun Custis comments: 'Ozil, 25, was allegedly injured, but that sounded like an excuse.')
Cross continues inside the Mirror, writing of Ozil's 'final humiliation' (even for a whiny Arsenal fan that sure is melodramatic):
'The German midfielder was substituted, his misery compounded in the Allianz Arena, and we are left wondering where Arsenal's record £42million signing has gone.'
Three things, John:
1) We know how much he cost. You really don't need to tell us ever again.
2) For the final time: He's gone to the treatment room for a few weeks - for that hamstring strain he picked up during his final humiliation.
3) In case you missed it - which we doubt, what with you being such a huge Arsenal fanboy - Ozil was man of the match against Everton on Saturday. Enjoy Wembley.
A Final Point
Frankly, Mediawatch is bloody tired of the Ozil bulls**t that has sweated its way through the second half of the season. What is it about the English press that causes them to jump at the idea that a foreign player's poor form is due to mental weakness? Ozil just doesn't match up to our brave lions John Terry and Frank Lampard, who were part of the England team that was embarrassed by Arsenal's shrinking violet and his German teammates in Bloemfontein in 2010.
The Ozil 'conundrum' is pretty bloody obvious, to the extent that it exacerbates the tedium of every single redundant column written about his lack of fight. With certain players in the team - remember Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott? - he has more opportunity to excel and demonstrate his exceptional range of passing. When he is able to play in the centre with runners from midfield (Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in recent weeks) he can perform to the best of his ability, as his display against Everton proved.
A final point - the fact that Arsenal are in the middle of yet another injury crisis has meant that Ozil has been forced to play almost every game (and frequently out of position) - something he is simply not used to following three years at Real Madrid. He is exhausted, even more so than Mediawatch after having to read yet more dribbling bumfarts about the playmaker's predicament.
The press are looking for a scapegoat to explain Arsenal's drop in form, when the reality is that they are enjoying their best season in years. And, if anyone is to blame for the Gunners not being able to compete at the elite level, it is surely Arsene Wenger, who failed to strengthen the squad adequately in the summer and again in January. The Ozil angle is simply too easy and too f**king obvious. But don't let that stop you, fellas.
Headline on the back page of The Times: 'Arsenal win battle but lose war.'
Well, it does sound better than 'Arsenal draw battle but lose war'.
Said a desperately optimistic Vincent Kompany: "If anything gives you belief in terms of chasing lost causes, then it should be that win over QPR."
Yup, playing QPR at home is exactly like facing Barcelona in the Nou Camp when you're already 2-0 down.
Hounds Of Hell
It appears that Oliver Holt has allowed his vapid asides to infest the main body of his Daily Mirror column, as he writes about Manchester City in a manner that suggests he's the only person to realise they're pretty bloody good.
Writes Holt of City's recent slump: 'They deserve to be criticised. But does anyone really think City aren't going to burst out of their slump?
'Maybe not tonight. Because beating Barcelona on their home turf is a Herculean task. But City are too good not to relaunch their title challenge when the Premier League resumes.
'They're way too good to stay ordinary. Way too good.
'No team with Kompany, Yaya Toure, David Silva, Samir Nasri and Sergio Aguero in it stays ordinary for long.'
Well thanks for that, Captain Obvious. What scraps are you going to feed the plebs next week?
Manchester United should be doing better? Arsene Wenger needs a new striker? Jose Mourinho enjoys mind games? Go on, give us a hint. We simply can't wait to find out.
No S**t Summation Of The Day
Writes Oliver Holt in the Daily Mirror: 'Chris Powell was not sacked as Charlton boss because of his race. He was sacked because Charlton are bottom of the Championship and we do not live in patient times.'
If you thought one pile of steaming bulls**t was enough for Neil Ashton on Wednesday, you're sadly mistaken. Perhaps short of ideas for his Ash Wednesday column in the Daily Mail, Ashton decides to speak on behalf of Liverpool fans in their apparently reluctant admiration of Daniel Sturridge - something Mediawatch would strongly advise against at the best of times:
'No matter how many goals he scores, no matter how many times he performs that dodgy dance, it feels like Daniel Sturridge will never be one of them,' writes Ashton, who has presumably attended more than just a handful of matches at Anfield this season. Surely - surely - he wouldn't deem it fit to pass comment otherwise?
'Such is the scepticism that it is only recently that the Kop have started chanting his name, but it is never with the same gusto or passion as that of captain Steven Gerrard or Luis Suarez.
'They are the real fans' favourites.'
Mediawatch has only one rule in life: if it finds itself talking about the 'gusto' with which other people celebrate a footballer, it's time to pack it all in and spend more time at the allotment. Nobody wishes to hear such self-important drivel.
But Ashton isn't finished: 'Liverpool supporters certainly take some winning over, a notoriously difficult crowd after being spoiled down the years with Kenny Dalglish, Ian Rush, John Barnes, John Aldridge and Robbie Fowler.
'What will it take, then, for the Kop to sway with Sturridge when he celebrates in front of them after scoring for Liverpool?
'His reaction at the Emirates in last month's FA Cup tie against Arsenal, when he sank to the floor at the final whistle after failing to set a club record by scoring in nine successive matches, did not help his image.
'It was obvious what the record meant to him, but Liverpool's exit in the FA Cup - after an outstanding performance against Arsenal - was of far greater significance.'
Hmmm, it seems Ashton is not only acutely aware of what Liverpool supporters are thinking, but he's also in the mind of Sturridge himself, thus knowing that the striker's disappointment after the Arsenal defeat was definitely due to his busted record hunt, not the Reds' cup exit. And either way, is that something fans really care about?
If you're such a mind reader, Neil, pray tell: how come you didn't spot that Ozil was injured on Tuesday?
Headline in The Sun: 'Roo: Let me be skipper'
Actual quotes from Wayne Rooney on the England captaincy: "You don't know what Steven is going to do in the summer, only he knows. It'd be a great honour to captain my country but, again, it's the manager's call and I'm sure he'll have a few contenders."
First. Fast. Fffff.
Writes Dan King in his 'Sport Uncovered' column for The Sun: 'Kevin Keegan would love it if he is finally allowed to extend his house - after an extraordinary rant at planning officials.'
Watch out Charlie Sale, there is a pretender to your throne of guff.
Embracing The Schedule
Said Inverness Caley Thistle manager John Hughes on Sunday: "We welcome the Hibs game on Wednesday, which is now even more important, and we'll embrace it and pick the team accordingly to give ourselves a chance."
Said Hughes on Tuesday, before Wednesday's clash with Hibs and Sunday's Scottish League Cup final against Aberdeen: "For some unknown reason the SPFL have said there's Hibernian midweek. Aberdeen have got the advantage, if they didn't have it already having sold 40,000 tickets. For some unknown reason someone has said there's a game.
"That game against Hibs. Who did that? That's advantage Aberdeen. They're sitting resting up. What happens if I pick up sending-offs or injuries? Advantage Aberdeen. Give them the cup. There you go.
"Enjoy your couple of days off and go and play your golf. Do what you want - while we still have to train and get prepared. We can't even prepare for the cup yet or think about Aberdeen. We've still got Hibs to worry about."
Worst Intro Of The Day
'It is Arsenal's lot in the Champions League to put on a creditable performance at the home of the best team in Europe, having already as good as conceded the tie in the first leg. Hashtag: pointless.'
Yes, Martin Samuel did actually write that in the Daily Mail. He's down with the kids, innit.
Worst Headlines Of The Day
'Bad Herr Day' - The Sun.
'Skip to the Roo' - Sky.
Non-Football Story Of The Day
'Canada is offering tax incentives to supporters of the Moose Sex Project - an initiative to build a land corridor connecting endangered moose with other herds to increase their numbers.
'There are fewer than 1,000 moose left in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, and human activity has made it difficult for animals to migrate, Andrew Holland of the Nature Conservancy of Canada tells the BBC. But a land bridge would mean that about 29,000 healthy moose from neighbouring New Brunswick could move in and replenish the gene pool.' - bbc.co.uk
Thanks to today's spotters Zubair Timol and the guy who sent the John Hughes bit. Sorry, my emails aren't working so I can't look up your name. I'm sure it's a good name, though. A strong name, like Hector. Or Glen. Good luck to you and your strong name. If you spot anything that belongs on this page, mail us at email@example.com, putting 'Mediawatch' in the subject field.