Lukas Podolski: Thoughts on His Current Predicament at the Club
As far back as March 2012, after some speculation on whether or not he was going to join the Gunners, the club had agreed personal terms and Arsenal had finally agreed a deal to sign the forward in the summer of 2012. He finally arrived that summer and he became one of the highest earners at the club.
In a pre-season fixture against his former employers, FC Cologne, Podolski was on fire, bagging a brace as he gave the German fans a glimpse of what they had missed. He arrived at the club fresh from Germany’s Euro 2012 campaign and big things were expected from Arsenal’s new signing along with the two high-profile recruits, Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla.
His debut as a center forward against Sunderland wasn’t that impressive but he found a new lease of life when he was deployed on the left flank and his first Arsenal goal came in the 2-0 win over Liverpool at Anfield. He netted a perfect free kick in his next game against Southampton and he continued his goalscoring run in the narrow Champions League win over Giroud’s former team, Montpellier.
After the goals had dried up a bit, he scored in the 3-1 victory against Olympiakos then he went on a goalscoring blitz in November, netting against Fulham, Tottenham and that incredible volley against Montpellier at the Emirates. He got on the scoring act again in the maulings of Reading and Newcastle then he came off the bench to blast in an equalizer in the FA Cup third round fixture against Swansea.
He blasted in a thunderbolt in the demolition of West Ham and he scored a deflected free kick that proved to be the match winner against Stoke City. When his previous club, Bayern Munich, came to the Emirates, Podolski’s scored Arsenal’s only goal of the game in the disappointing loss. A late strike against Norwich followed then while deputizing for Giroud after his sending off against Fulham, Podolski bagged a brace against Wigan that played a role in sending them to the bowels of Championship football.
With a total of 16 goals and 11 assists, it’s fair to say that Podolski had a fantastic debut campaign at Arsenal. There were a couple of injury worries along the line, but he played through the pain barrier in some games.
This season, Podolski opened his goalscoring account with a well-taken brace against Fulham in August but he suffered a nasty hamstring injury in Arsenal’s next game against Fenerbahce in the Champions League qualifiers. According to the Daily Mail, he was diagnosed to be ruled out for 10 weeks, but he spent the best part of four to five months out before making his comeback against West Ham.
When things seemed really bleak for the Gunners against West Ham, Arsene Wenger summoned the services of Podolski after a long time out and he responded with a goal and an assist which endeared him back to the hearts of the Emirates faithful.
He didn’t feature in the next game against Newcastle with Wenger opting to ease him into game time slowly but with Giroud suffering an ankle injury in the narrow win against Newcastle, Wenger drafted Podolski as a center forward against Cardiff and he struggled badly. Nicklas Bendtner came in his stead and scored a late goal before Theo Walcott sealed the points.
With Giroud and Bendtner out injured, everybody expected Podolski to get the nod as a center forward in the North London Derby but Wenger fielded Walcott in that position ahead of Podolski and he did pretty well before suffering that season-ending injury.
Giroud returned to full fitness and Wenger didn’t hesitate in playing him in his favored center forward role but there was still no space for Podolski in the starting lineup. Santi Cazorla struggled on the left wing and even had a hand in Aston Villa’s goal but when Tomas Rosicky wasn’t deemed fit enough to continue, Arsene Wenger opted to bring on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain ahead of Podolski, and this time it didn’t go down well with the German.
While the Ox readied himself up to grace the pitch, you could see Podolski’s glaring frustration as he shook his head and zipped up his jacket to show his disgust, as he probably had hoped to get some games under his belt. Shortly after the game, he expressed his support for the Ox through Twitter.
Like Thomas Vermaelen, game time has been hard to come by for Podolski with Olivier Giroud’s fitness and form in attack and a plethora of options in the left hand side of the attacking trio. Podolski’s chances further diminished with the emergence of Serge Gnabry and it must have really hurt seeing the Ox play after just returning from injury while the German has been fully fit for well over a month. In fairness to Wenger, the Ox played through the middle to add steel to the midfield, a position not suited for a player like Podolski.
With half an eye on the World Cup this summer, Podolski needs to get a run of games to prove his worth to the club and the watchful eyes of Joachim Low. The German is further down the pecking order on the left hand side with Borussia Dortmund’s Marco Reus and Schalke’s Julian Draxler vying for that position.
The games against Fulham and Coventry offers Podolski an opportunity to get some game time and I hope he grabs that chance with both arms. I don’t see him starting in the crucial away fixture at Southampton but he has to remember that competition for first-team places brings out the best in players, which is ultimately for the good of the team.
The Kieran Gibbs – Nacho Monreal battle has been a major highlight of both players careers at the club and from the games they have played, you can see how much improvement they’ve made. When Gibbs replaced Monreal in the Aston Villa game, you could see that there was no difference in the balance of play and like Monreal, Gibbs also made some forays forward to support the attack.
I really like Podolski and I hope he gets some game time soon. Even Wenger has acknowledged that he’s the club’s best finisher, but he needs to give the German some games to back his claims.
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