The curious case of Lukas Podolski
Following Arsenal’s disappointing 0-0 draw with Man Utd, many fans were questioning the decision to leave Lukas Podolski on the bench for the whole game.
The German has been a peripheral figure since returning from injury against West Ham on Boxing Day when, ironically, he scored and changed the game after coming on as a second half sub.
Podolski also netted a brace against Coventry in the FA Cup when he last started a game but has yet to start a game since.
The rumours are that Wenger does not trust Podolski’s work rate when he starts and this is evident in the amount of games he has actually completed during his time at the Emirates.
When he does start a game he is subbed 66.7% of the time, usually around the 70th minute mark which suggests he cannot maintain the high fitness level required to play in Arsenal’s 4-2-3-1 formation.
But while he may not be able to maintain his levels for 90 minutes, there is no reason he cannot have an impact from the bench if he is used for the final quarter of a game.
Podolski has the pace to run in-behind defenders unlike Giroud, Cazorla and Ozil while he also has a torpedo of a left foot that he is not afraid to use from distance.
When Arsenal’s intricate passing game is failing to fire like against Man Utd then the direct option of Podolski offers something different and the fact the he was not brought on speaks volumes.
The need to consolidate and re-group following the 5-1 hammering at Anfield was understandable and the performance against Utd was a mirror image of the 0-0 draw with Chelsea following the defeat at Man City.
The main objective was to keep a clean sheet and that was accomplished thanks to stunning save from Wojciech Szczęsny to deny Robin van Pesie in the second half.
But when you are chasing a title, you need to take risks and Podolski should have been given 20 minutes to inject some much needed spark into Arsenal’s timid attack.
Throughout the game Ozil was yearning for somebody to make a run in behind the defence for him to slide a killer ball though but it never came.
The German is a popular figure at the club and amongst the fans with his social media ventures but he seems to be nothing more than a glorified cheerleader for the team.
My feeling is that he will be sold in the summer and while it will be disappointing to see him go, it would make sense to have a player in the squad that Wenger trusts to do a job for the team.
And this is evidently not the case with Podolski.