Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's future at Chelsea -- not to mention his status as one of the Premier League's most feared frontmen -- may have been extinguished following a particularly testing week, where he was thoroughly outshone by Manchester City's Riyad Mahrez.
In Italy, Victor Osimhen appears to have taken Auba's mantle as Africa's top striker in the game today, while Mohamed Elneny and the superb Eddie Nketiah were among the goals as Arsenal saw off Oxford United to progress in the FA Cup.
Auba's Blues blues continue
These are rocky times at Chelsea, who have completely lost momentum under Graham Potter -- one win in his last seven -- and have been beaten twice by Manchester City in the space of four days.
According to the besieged Blues boss, Aubameyang missed the second match -- City's 4-0 FA Cup victory on Sunday -- due to a back problem, but even if he had been fit, one suspects he would have been benched by the Londoners.
In the first match against City, Aubameyang suffered the ignominy of being substituted as a sub, with the Gabon striker introduced for the injured Raheem Sterling in the fifth minute, only to himself be replaced after 63 ineffectual minutes. During the course of the contest he made only 13 touches, and failed to register a single shot.
His struggles at Chelsea come in stark contrast to his former club Arsenal's own lofty position at the top of the Premier League, while the striker's own fortunes have taken a dramatic turn since a year ago, when he signed for Barcelona after a disastrous Africa Cup of Nations in order to end his nightmare at the Emirates Stadium.
His anonymous showing on Thursday was a new low for the forward who had a hand in four goals in his first five matches after signing for Chelsea, but now hasn't scored in his past 10 matches for the Londoners.
"He came on after one minute and hadn't played for a while," Potter told journalists after the match, defending his ruthless decision to hook Auba just after the hour-mark. "He put in a shift for us and I thought he did his bit for the team.
"He fatigued a bit so we thought we needed a bit of energy and the subs brought that," the coach continued. "He gave everything for the team. That was the decision."
If you think his appraisal sounds generous for a player who managed just one touch in the City box, you wouldn't be alone.
"I think he will now be moved on, I think they will cut their ties with him," ex-Arsenal midfielder Paul Merson told Sky Sports. "As soon as you are sub-subbing a 30-something player, I think that is probably the end.
"Maybe you can get away with it with a younger player, but in football it's one of those unwritten rules," he added. "It's a don't-do, but Potter did it with him at 33 and, for me, I think he's done."
Auba's renaissance at Barcelona during the first half of 2022 proves that the veteran can bounce back after being written off, but whether he can do it all over again, without a change of scene, remains to be seen.
Auba scored 11 goals in 17 Liga goals for Barca, and hasn't become a poor player overnight, but can Potter realistically rehabilitate the ex-Borussia Dortmund man at goal-shy Chelsea?
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Osimhen catching up to Weah's Serie A record
In sharp contrast, Napoli's Victor Osimhen looks head and shoulders above the continent's other goal getters at the moment, and added his 10th league goal of the season on Sunday as Napoli defeated Sampdoria 2-0 away.
It was a valuable triumph for the Partenopei -- who lost their first league game of the season at Internazionale on Wednesday -- as they immediately got their title challenge back on track ahead of the visit of Juventus on Friday.
Osimhen's latest strike keeps him well out in front in the Serie A goal charts -- two ahead of Lautaro Martinez, Marko Arnautovic and M'Bala Nzola -- while he also equals a record set by the legendary George Weah in the Italian top flight.
Osimhen and Weah are the only two African players to have hit double figures for goals in three separate Serie A campaigns, with the letter having done it between 1995 and 1998.
The Nigerian is still some way off the Liberia President's overall goal haul in the top flight; Weah netted 46 across five seasons with AC Milan, the most by an African player in the league, while Osimhen currently has 34 since signing for Napoli from LOSC Lille in 2020.
Magic Mahrez starts 2023 with a bang
In further contrast to Aubameyang, Riyad Mahrez has entered 2023 in outstanding form, defying some critics who had begun to question the 31-year-old's place in Pep Guardiola's plans at City.
Renewed, perhaps, after missing out on the World Cup, the Algeria international has now had a hand in four goals in his last three matches, including the winner against Chelsea on Thursday and a magnificent double against Potter's side on Sunday.
He opened the scoring in City's FA Cup rout with a sensational early free kick - earning the set piece himself after bring brought down by Lewis Hall, before curling the ball beyond Kepa Arrizabalaga - and then rounded off the triumph with a late penalty after Phil Foden had been fouled by the out-of-sorts Kalidou Koulibaly.
Mahrez, who had failed to register a single league assist in his first 10 games of the season, was also influential as Foden took the contest beyond Chelsea in the 38th minute, with his cross for Kyle Walker yet further evidence of a player at the top of his game.
Knowing Guardiola, Mahrez may well be dropped to the bench for Saturday's Manchester derby, but there aren't too many players in more exquisite form as we approach the Premier League's second gameweek of the New Year.
Nketiah form continues as North London Derby nears
League leaders Arsenal made hard work of third-tier Oxford United in the final fixture of the FA Cup Third Round on Monday evening, failing to break down the hosts until the 63rd minute.
Egypt's Elneny eventually broke the Yellows' resolve when he headed home from close range after an excellent free kick from the sublime Fabio Vieira, but it was down to in-form Nketiah to see off the lower-league opponents.
Nketiah has surpassed expectations since replacing the injured Gabriel Jesus as the Gunners' spearhead, with a muted showing against Newcastle United in midweek the only misstep in a run of five goals in five games.
He killed off any Oxford hopes in the 70th minute by picking up a Vieira through-ball, rounding keeper Edward McGinty and tapping home, before adding his second six minutes later with a delightful lifted finish after beating the offside trap (just) having been picked out by Gabriel Martinelli.
Nketiah will be hoping to extend his purple patch when Arsenal travel to fierce rivals and neighbours Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.