We have asked a variation of this question before, but who better to analyse the problems at Arsenal than a Liverpool-supporting reporter with a mandate to report on European football?
Step forward Antony Kastrinakis of The Sun with the kind of wilful ignorance that leaves you shaking your head (and smiling through tears, if you’re Mediawatch).
According to him, potential new signing Lucas Perez is exactly like Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. So uncanny is the likeness that The Sun have opted for an ‘ATTACK OF THE CLONES’ headline. They’ve even thrown Alexis Sanchez into the mix because a 5’6 (and a half)” Chilean winger is exactly the same as a 5’11 (and a half)” Spanish striker. Kastrinakis has obviously not conducted the kind of ‘investigation’ into tallness that drew Mediawatch’s admiring glances on Thursday.
‘No household name, but Perez may be another band-aid transfer to help for a top-four push. Another Theo Walcott or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Perez is a winger who can play as a second striker.’
What’s important to note at this point is that Perez played the whole of last season either as the main striker or second striker; he did not play a single game as a winger. Oh and he scored 17 goals and was credited with eight assists. Between them, Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain (one start as a No. 10 last season, by the way) scored six Premier League goals and contributed one assist. Uncannily, the same pair produced six goals and one assist in 2014/15 too. So in two seasons, two players – who are exactly the same as Lucas Perez, remember – contributed 12 goals and two assists. Which is some way short of the 17 goals and eight assists Perez produced in one season. It’s a veritable attack of the clones.
The real annoyance comes with the knowledge that Kastrinakis absolutely knows this; he’s just being a div.
‘He played as the main man for a season at hometown club Deportino and did well but he is more like Manchester City’s Nolito – only not as good.’
That will be the Nolito who played the entirety of last season as a left winger. And scored fewer goals than Perez.
Join Mediawatch in hoping that he’s now really bloody brilliant. And tall. Don’t forget tall.
The big opinion
Stan Collymore is dubbed by the Daily Mirror as ‘The man who always speaks his mind’.
This week’s hot take: ‘JOSE MOURINHO will also have an impact on the Premier League this season. No doubt.’
‘MARCUS RASHFORD is entitled to feel a bit miffed,’ writes Neil Ashton, who has now written approximately 17 columns about Marcus Rashford in The Sun, including one where he was compared very favourably to Memphis Depay largely on the car he drives.
And why should Marcus Rashford be feeling ‘miffed’? Because he has been demoted to the England Under-21s what with him being, crucially, a) English b) Under 21 and c) out of his team’s starting XI.
‘It is Allardyce’s name above the door now and he is entitled to set the selection criteria however he sees fit. In the coming months England’s head coach will discover just how narrow those parameters can be. Last weekend, Rashford was one of 35 English players named on subs’ benches for the second round of Premier League games. Rashford, like the majority of them, did not get on the pitch.’
Well, that will be because you can only use three of your seven subs, Neil. Oh and what you seem to have missed in all your counting: 70 English players actually started the second round of Premier League games. That’s roughly enough for three squads.
Mediawatch is wondering whether football writers at The Sun are being shunted a bonus for every time they do a story with a spurious link to betting in order to promote their new in-house bookmaker. How else to explain Graeme Bryce’s story about the Champions League draw:
‘CLAUDIO RANIERI’S Foxes are being backed to blitz into the last 16 of the Champions League – after their 5,000/1 title triumph rocked the world.
‘After landing in a favourable group with Porto, Club Brugge and FC Copenhagen, the bookies were running for cover as they slashed the odds on them going ALL the way.’
Helpfully, The Sun have included a graphic showing that TheSunBets have indeed slashed odds on winning the Champions League from 80/1 to 40/1.
Elsewhere, not mentioned by The Sun, Paddy Power, Ladbrokes and Betfair are all sprinting so quickly for cover that they have cut Leicester’s odds from 66/1 to 50/1. SkyBet? They’re really scared – 50/1 in May has become, erm, 50/1 in August.
One press conference, one quote, two interpretations
Headline on the Sky Sports website: ‘Wilfried Zaha will not play against Bournemouth after Spurs transfer bid.’
Headline on MailOnline: ‘Wilfried Zaha likely to play for Crystal Palace against Bournemouth despite Tottenham’s £12m bid for winger.’
Hyperbole of the day
From Ken Lawrence in The Sun: ‘ROBERTO MARTINEZ will be giving Romelu Lukaku the very thing is he is dreading most – a phone call.’
Well a sudden ring can give one a bit of a start.
Daniel is travelling tonight on a train…
The one thing that Jurgen Klopp needs right now is advice from Stan Collymore, who says that ‘IF Jurgen Klopp is going to ask Daniel Sturridge to play wide, then I reckon he’s going to have a massive problem on his hands’.
Never mind that roughly six inches to the left in the Daily Mirror, Klopp is quoted as saying “I don’t want Daniel to play on the wing”, Collymore is on a mission with his opinion about a man he once met on a train who seemed like ‘a decent lad’.
‘There is a fundamental issue because Manchester City shoved him out of the middle, and it didn’t work. Chelsea shuffled him out of the middle…and it didn’t work.’
We’ll stop you there, Stan, because that’s utter bollocks. Sturridge left City in 2009 at the age of just 19. He hadn’t been shunted out wide, he had just not been first-choice striker (because he was 19) at a club that had Robinho on their books.
He wasn’t really ‘shoved out of the middle’ at Chelsea either, because he was never really in the middle (because he was a young, unproven striker). What did happen was that Andre Villas-Boas gave him his first full season of Premier League football in 2011/12 and that happened to be on the wing. And as no Chelsea player beat his 11 Premier League goals that season, we’re not sure it ‘didn’t work’.
‘Jurgen, it’s a great plan, but you may have to put it away for a little while.’
You might have won all two Bundesliga titles and reached a Champions League final, Jurgen, but Stan knows best. He met him on a train once, you know.
How to get clicks on a story about Wilfried Zaha
‘Confirmed: The ‘Next Pogba’ Wants Spurs Move.’
The inside track
Thank f*** we have Neil Ashton giving us ‘the inside track on football’s big stories’ in The Sun. How else would we have known – if he didn’t have a source at Joe Hart’s son’s birthday party – that ‘Hart expects to leave before the transfer deadline’.