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Friday, 14 December, 2018

Lacazette may have to get used to a bench role

Birmingham are headed in the right direction

Alexandre Lacazette of Arsenal warms up
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Five things we learned from the weekend

1 Former Arsenal record signing could be pushed out
The arrival of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang left many to ponder how Arsene Wenger was planning to use his new arrival with former record signing Alexandre Lacazette already at the club. The answer against Everton was clear.

Arsenal were easy 5-1 winners and Lacazette spent the match on the bench, possibly partly because goalie Petr Cech needed to be subbed, but clearly Wenger is in no mood to keep everyone happy.

Aubameyang made a goalscoring debut, while Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Mesut Ozil will expect to fill a couple of the attacking midfielder positions meaning a formation with two up front is unlikely.

In a World Cup year and with competition in the French camp red-hot, the move to the Emirates may end woefully for Lacazette, who seems likely to fill the Olivier Giroud role of super sub and Europa League striker.

2 Birmingham on the up
Beating nine men may not sound like a fantastic achievement but improving Birmingham were already leading 3-0 at Sheffield Wednesday before the dismissals of Marco Matias and Lucas Joao.

Blues looked in massive trouble at Christmas but they have since won five, drawn two and lost just once (against Derby) and it will be a relief to everyone involved with Steve Cotterill's side to finally see Jota come good.

Jota was a big-name arrival by Sky Bet Championship standards from Brentford in the summer but the Hillsborough trip produced his first goals of the season after he hit the net 12 times for Brentford last campaign.

3 Shrewd Shrews' set-piece stunners
Shrewsbury continue to defy the odds to lie second in League One and one major reason is their brilliance from set-pieces.

There is no standout goalscorer in Paul Hurst's ranks but those playing the first or anytime markets need to focus on his defenders given the excellent set-piece delivery of Shaun Whalley.

The first goal has come via defenders - Omar Beckles, James Bolton and Matt Sadler - in each of their last three league matches.

4 Powell perfect fit for Southend
Former player Chris Powell was the overwhelming favourite with fans to get the job to replace Phil Brown and he has made a perfect start with excellent wins over Scunthorpe and Peterborough.

The 1-0 success against Posh on Saturday will have particularly pleased Powell as Southend managed to shut out the dangerous home attacking trident of Marcus Maddison, Omar Bogle and Jack Marriott.

"We deserved to lose," said Peterborough manager Grant McCann, who added "Southend overpowered us all over the pitch."

5 You'd be silly to write off Killie
Steve Clarke is seriously rebuilding his reputation in the Ladbrokes Premiership with some tipping him to become the next Scotland manager after his brilliant results with Kilmarnock.

Celtic were hit by defensive injuries but the 1-0 win made it five straight home victories for Clarke's side and that sequence includes a couple of high-profile triumphs against the Old Firm.

Given that form and the fact that they host Brora Rangers in the next round of the William Hill Scottish Cup Killie could be the each-way value in that competition.

Kilmarnock have lost only three matches since the start of October.


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