With one goal in his last 12 games, only a fool would suggest Alexandre Lacazette has enjoyed a brilliant season at Arsenal. But Emmanuel Petit goes to the other extreme when discussing his compatriot with The Sun.
“Lacazette is under massive pressure,” says the pundit. “He needs to improve or face the exit this summer.
“Aubameyang’s signing tells me it might already be too late. Arsene Wenger’s belief in Lacazette has gone.
“After six months his statistics are not exactly tremendous.”
And nor are they disastrous. He is the club’s top scorer this season, and has goals against Manchester City and Manchester United. Only nine players have more Premier League goals this season. Again, certainly not ‘tremendous’, but not terrible either.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang enjoyed a fine goalscoring debut against Everton, while Lacazette remained on the bench. But it was just one game. To suggest it ‘might already be too late’ for a player who, up until last month, was the club’s record signing, is phenomenal.
Whatever happened to healthy competition for places? Or playing two strikers at the same time.
Paul Merson does not see the pair starting together against Tottenham, mind. He expects a ‘gung ho’ approach from Arsenal, with Aubameyang leading the line. He explains how the club-record signing can be something of a secret weapon on Sky Sports‘ The Debate.
“Spurs’ defenders won’t have seen a lot of Aubameyang, they won’t know his movements.”
A couple of points, Merse:
1) Aubameyang is hardly an unknown. He scored 141 goals in 213 games for Borussia Dortmund. Scouts might have noticed this hidden gem.
2) Aubameyang has faced Tottenham four times since the start of the 2015/16 season, scoring four goals.
3) Aubameyang scored in a 2-1 defeat for Borussia Dortmund against Tottenham in November.
Mediawatch reckons Tottenham’s defenders have probably picked up his “movements” by now.
At this stage, we fear that Paul Merson must be trolling (is that what the kids call it?) Mediawatch…
“[Watford] were the team on the glass mountain with moccasin slippers on” – February 9 2018.
“I know [Watford] have been on the glass mountain in moccasin slippers lately but I think Silva has been very hard done by. I feel for him” – January 27 2018.
“Watford are on a glass mountain with moccasin slippers” – January 12 2018.
“It’s so important [Watford] beat Leicester, because I think they could have ended up as one of those teams on a glass mountain with moccasin slippers on” – January 1 2018
“Burnley need to win, they’re on the old glass mountain with moccasin slippers on” – April 4 2017.
“There’s always a team that slides down the league like they’re on a glass mountain with moccasin slippers on and can’t stop. [Leicester] are the ones for me” – February 21 2017.
“There’s always one team who end up on the glass mountain with moccasin slippers on, and it could be Swansea” – February 27 2016.
“Swansea are on a glass mountain with slippers on and they can’t stop sliding” – January 14 2016.
“There’s always one team who end up on a glass mountain with a pair of slippers on and this year it’s Newcastle” – May 8 2015.
“Near the end of the season you always get one team that comes flying down the league on a glass mountain with a pair of slippers on and Newcastle are that team at the moment” – April 23 2015.
The long Riyad home
Martin Samuel has mastered the art of comedy in the Daily Mail. He writes that the only person preventing Riyad Mahrez from securing ‘his dream move’ will be ‘the player himself’.
‘A game like he had last year when he helped inspire a 4-2 Leicester victory, or the year before when he scored one and made another at the Etihad as Leicester won 3-1, might have convinced Guardiola that he need look no further — or to come closer to Leicester’s exorbitant valuation.
‘Instead, Mahrez’s absence from the team sheet will leave another impression: that of a high maintenance, selfish individual who signed a contract, wants to end that contract prematurely and, finding he cannot, abandons his club and his team-mates.’
The piece was published on Thursday evening. By Friday morning, the ‘high maintenance, selfish individual’ was reported as being back in training, and in contention to play on Saturday. Wonderful.
To the Victor
Samuel uses another section of his column to shed light on Jesse Lingard’s recent Twitter ‘faux-pas’.
‘Jesse Lingard’s mighty faux-pas in appearing to tweet during the Munich memorial ceremony has inadvertently exposed the emptiness at the heart of many celebrity social media accounts.
‘It isn’t really them.’
Quick, someone show him Victor Anichebe’s timeline from October 2016.
But Samuel’s piece on Mahrez is nothing compared to Neil Ashton’s missive in The Sun on the same subject.
Under a headline of ‘stroppy, striking superstar’, Ashton proceeds to sarcastically describe the winger as a ‘nice chap’, insisting that he ‘does not intend to make the trip’ to the Etihad Stadium on Saturday. Again, phenomenal timing.
Weirdly, Ashton does say that Mahrez ‘is entitled to be miffed’, and ‘has done his bit for the Foxes’. So you’re on his side?
Or not. ‘He is a dirty word in football now,’ apparently.
Elsewhere, Ashton writes:
‘Jose Mourinho placed great emphasis on the Munich air disaster by reflecting on the tragedy before Manchester United’s clash with Huddersfield.
‘So it seems odd that he turned up for the official memorial wearing a hoodie under his club blazer.
‘His No 2 Rui Faria wore club suit and tie, showing the right level of respect.’
BREAKING: Man wears hoodie in north of England in February. Thank the lord we have someone with ‘the inside track on football’s big stories’ to inform us.
Never before has the the title of Charlie Sale’s Daily Mail column – Sports Agenda – been more apt than on Friday.
‘The dysfunctional relationship between kit suppliers Nike and the FA and Team England agents 1966 was exposed when the US company – seemingly purely chasing the youth market – mainly ignored traditional press for their shambolic reveal this week of the new England World Cup strips. This compares with the FA, whose media policy still prioritises national newspaper access to players and management.’
Those poor, put upon newspaper journalists, not invited to an event they subsequently revel in describing as ‘shambolic’. How awfully grown-up of them.
Still, Sale was not the most vexed man in the industry. That award, as it pretty much always does, goes to Neil Custis of The Sun.
Who on earth does @nikefootball PR, you have an England kit launch and don’t invite any national newspapers. What a joke
— Neil Custis (@ncustisTheSun) February 8, 2018
That’s right, Manchester United fans. You are not the victims of the biggest media conspiracy in football; the media is.
‘Whether Poch finally breaks the spell or not, English football should cherish this Spurs side and their stylish approach’ – Neil Asthon, The Sun, February 9.
‘Tottenham are heading the same way – all fur coat and no knickers’ – Neil Ashton, The Sun, December 1.
Two months is a long time in football.
Recommended reading of the day
Andy Dunn defends referees.
Jonathan Wilson on the latest Wengerian response.
Tony Evans on Tottenham.