Former England forward Eni Aluko handed Arsenal midfielder Bukayo Saka a secret tip during her time at Chelsea – take a dip in a magnesium bath.
Speaking on the Kings of the Premier League show, sponsored by Budweiser, Aluko revealed: “I know Saka’s family well. When he was a bit younger, I told them I soaked in a magnesium bath the day before a game to prevent cramp.
“Bukayo started doing the same thing and he’s flown ever since. He’s never had that problem with cramp since, so I’m definitely taking the credit for that!”
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- Eni Aluko and Harry Pinero on KOTPL
Saka has now scored two goals and notched an assist in his past three league games and started in a variety of positions for the Gunners this season, having broken into the first team as a regular at just 19 years old.
“There have been jokes that Arsenal are part of a relegation battle, but they’re on the way back up and Saka has been part of that. He’s really influential for such a young player, in terms of chances created and scoring goals.”
Kings Of The Premier League
‘Cantona broke my heart’
Chelsea fan Aluko also revealed she supported rivals Manchester United as a child: “Yes, I was a United fan growing up. My favourite player was Eric Cantona and I used to pop my collar like him in the garden.
“I remember bawling my eyes out when United lost out to the FA Cup against Everton in the 90s. But I was devastated when Cantona left [the club]. He broke my heart. I didn’t connect with Manchester United again. Now I’m a Chelsea fan.
“I have since been lucky enough to meet Cantona. He’s quiet, not a man of many words. I told him this story, that I couldn’t believe I was sat in front of him… and now we’re friends on Instagram!”
‘Lampard needs time’
Chelsea dropped to ninth in the Premier League after Sunday’s 3-1 defeat to Manchester City, which left them seven points off the top of the table after a run of one win in six, with reports suggesting Lampard’s job was under threat.
“Football can be so fickle. I don’t understand it,” said Aluko. “I really do hope he keeps his job. Once the rumours start in the media, and a lot of those will be trusted sources, so there may be some truth in it. I just hope there isn’t.
“Only a month ago we were talking about them being title contenders. If anything, Frank was playing it down. He was saying, ‘let’s not get carried away, the squads still new’.
“Teams that have won the league before have been together for a long time. And now, a bad run, and we’re talking about him potentially losing his job.
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“I hope he’s given time, because he’s a Chelsea legend and there’s a great relationship with the fans for what he’s done at the club.
“Chelsea is in my heart, it’s my club, but I think we know they’re not too patient when it comes to managers. But I hope, I really do, they give Frank time. He did a great job last year, without being able to sign players.
“Yes, now he’s signed a lot of players, they’ve spent a lot of money, but those players need time to grow as a squad. You don’t just click your fingers and win the Premier League, as Liverpool have proven.”
Giroud a ‘great professional’
Olivier Giroud has eight goals from his last eight appearances following a frustrating start to the season, where he started one of Chelsea’s opening 16 matches.
Juventus and AC Milan are interested in snapping up the France international this month, with his contract set to expire this summer, but his recent form has raised questions about whether the Blues should secure an extension.
“Giroud might be having conversations with Lampard about how he can get [a regular start], but it’s on the training pitch he’s showing him [instead of] moping around and not being happy he’s not being picked,” said Aluko.
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“It sounds to me like, whether he’s starting or not, he’s training well and then takes that form into games. As a striker, you don’t just sit on the bench for a long time and then, click, you play and score. You’re doing that in training.
“I think he’s a great professional and that’s showing in the goals he’s scored. The way Lampard speaks about him will impact the rest of the group. I don’t think there’s been complete harmony with some of the players that aren’t in.
“But having that kind of professional in the team, that hasn’t necessarily always played, will impact the other players as well.”
Aluko and Pinero on KOTPL
Sky Sports presenter Adam Smith and two guests build an ultimate XI from the top-performing players over the past month, armed with stats-based rankings and votes from the fans.
This month, Smithy is joined by former England forward and sporting director for women’s football at Aston Villa Eni Aluko and influencer, presenter and Manchester United fan Harry Pinero.
The pair will be pitting stats against gut, comparing results from the statistical Power Rankings with fans’ votes for Kings of the Match on the Premier League website.
- How are the Power Rankings calculated?
- Kings of the Match explained
The guests disagreed on several selections before being forced into a decision and provided opinions on several of the hot talking points right now.
Do the Premier League’s statistical leaders make the cut in this month’s XI, or do the fans’ favourites earn starting berths? Tune in to Sky Sports Premier League at 7pm on Friday to find out.
This week’s Power Rankings
Arsenal’s Alexandre Lacazette has topped the form chart after scoring his fourth goal in as many games with a double during the 4-0 win at West Brom, with team-mates Bernd Leno (No 7), Kieran Tierney (No 12) and Bukayo Saka (No 14) also charging up the chart.
West Ham midfielder Tomas Soucek climbed into the runner-up spot with his fourth goal in seven league games in the 1-0 victory over Everton at Goodison Park, having headed home a late leveller against Brighton 10 days earlier.
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Anwar El Ghazi (No 3) tumbled from the summit but still led his team-mates at high-flying Aston Villa following their 2-1 defeat at Manchester United, ahead of Bertrand Traore (No 5), Emiliano Martinez (No 9) and Jack Grealish (No 11).
Manchester United talisman Bruno Fernandes (No 4) retained his customary place among the elite performers after scoring a match-winning penalty at Old Trafford, while team-mate Marcus Rashford slipped six places to No 8.
Ilkay Gundogan (No 6) broke the deadlock and produced a man-of-the-match display during Manchester City’s comfortable 3-1 win at Chelsea, while Leicester starlet Harvey Barnes retained his top-10 standing following a 2-1 win at Newcastle.
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