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Mario Lemina on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang friendship, why he owes Fulham and the handball rule he caused

Published on: 14 April 2021

Fulham's on-loan midfielder Mario Lemina says he owes the club for giving him another chance in the Premier League and has vowed to continue fighting for survival ahead of Sunday's trip to Arsenal, live on Sky Sports Premier League.

Fulham fell six points behind Newcastle in 17th place in the Premier League after Adama Traore's 92nd-minute winner for Wolves against the Cottagers last week was followed by the Magpies' Allan Saint-Maximin-inspired 2-1 comeback win at Burnley.

Lemina bemoaned Fulham's luck, despite their improving performances, after suffering another devastating blow in their fight for survival.

"I've been thinking about what we have been doing for the last few months and weeks, the hard work we have been putting in. We gave everything on the pitch, I can't blame any players or the manager," he told Sky Sports News, reflecting on Fulham's position in the table.

"When you get to this point at the end of the season, and you concede goals coming from nowhere, it hurts. Everything we did in the game, all the work is for nothing, we don't deserve this."

The Southampton loanee, who has also played for European giants Juventus and Marseille, says he feels he owes Fulham for giving him another chance to play in the Premier League and the club's fans for the support he has received from them.

"I am happy for them to see that I am a really emotional guy. I need to respect the team and myself. I need to be able to go home and look in the mirror and be honest with myself," he added.

"I respect that they give me a chance to play again in the Premier League. I will give everything until the end of the season, that's my job and I will keep going."

'Auba a child at heart; he worked to get here '

Lemina comes up against Gabon team-mate and close friend Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in Sunday's game against Arsenal.

The Arsenal captain has been criticised by Mikel Arteta for his discipline and had his work-rate questioned after underwhelming performances in recent weeks.

Lemina says, while Aubameyang may have an easy-going and playful personality, he has only got to this stage of his career through serious hard work and perseverance.

"He likes fancy things. You can see the cars, he likes manga cartoons, comic-book superheroes, he's still a kid. That's his personality. He is a really happy guy, he deserves where he is right now," he said.

"As a player I really respect him, I know his background. He wasn't the best player at the beginning and he has worked so hard to get where he is right now, that's why I respect him a lot.

"We are good friends, we don't talk every day. He doesn't want to bother me, he would rather be with his family but he is a really good guy. He's an amazing person."

'Lemina rule? Just more bad luck...'

During Fulham's 1-0 home loss to Tottenham in March, the hosts were left aggrieved by a controversial VAR decision to disallow Josh Maja's equaliser just after the hour, as Lemina was penalised for handball in the build-up despite his arm being by his side.

The fall out from the incident led to the IFAB amending the handball law from July 1. Accidental handballs that lead to a team-mate scoring a goal or having a goalscoring opportunity will no longer be considered an offence.

"Just another bit of bad luck. After my handball, my bad luck, they changed the rules," said a frustrated Lemina.

"We should have got a point against Tottenham, after that what can I say? We only get bad luck."


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