Lukas Podolski Will Help Resurgent Arsenal Stake a Claim for Fourth Place

Ross Dunbar@@rossdunbar93Contributor IIFebruary 3, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 23:  Lukas Podolski of Arsenal scores their first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and West Ham United at Emirates Stadium on January 23, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

He was FC Koln’s favourite son prior to his departure in the summer.

Lukas Podolski is not looking back to his time in Germany and seems to be relishing the challenge of playing in the English Premier League. His cockney-German accent is warming the 27-year-old to the Arsenal support who recognise his fine attributes of scoring match-winning goals and his admirable work-rate.

Despite battling relegation with the Billy Goats last season, Podolski was still holding down a place in the German national team and has been a quietly consistent performer on the left-hand side of the attack for some time.

In his 106 international appearances, since his debut in 2004, he has scored 44 goals for the DFB-elf making him the sixth-highest scorer for the national team—and is within touching distance of Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Jurgen Klinsmann and Rudi Voller.

On paper, his move to Arsenal looked an exceptional purchase at €12 million, and he arrived in England with a strong reputation for his impact in the Germany side.

His goals at Koln went under the radar, naturally, at the wrong end of the league table, and the regular football along with being the axis of the team only helped his rise as a player, rather than continuing to warm the bench at FC Bayern where he spent three difficult years.

Similarly to Euro 2012, Podolski looked isolated on the left-hand side and struggled to form a bond with Andre Santos at full-back, to allow him to drift into a more potent inside-left position which he does so effectively.

The run of form for Kieran Gibbs has aided to his progress—but the signing of Nacho Monreal might spark a really interesting combination down the left-hand side.

It should be acknowledged, though, that Podolski is strongest in the centre of the park. He scored 18 goals in 29 Bundesliga games in Koln’s relegation season, as he was forced to the lead the line on many occasions due to a stretched squad under Stale Solbakken. Perhaps last season Podolski was one of the more successful experiments of the “False Nine” position, dropping into deep areas to allow midfielders to work around him inside the box.

Arsenal’s disappointing first-half of the season means they are sixth in the EPL, falling behind North London rivals Tottenham and Everton in the race for the fourth Champions League position. However, Podolski’s own progress in the English capital has been unwavering. The attentive forward has eight league goals this season in 21 starts and has three in five for Arsenal’s Champions League exploits.

Recently, the pressure has eased off boss Arsene Wenger following an improved run of results—four wins in last seven games in all competitions—with the Gunners showing a mental toughness that has been missing for a substantial amount of time.

On Saturday, Arsenal overcome a stubborn Stoke City with an ardent performance, failing to strike a chord in attacking positions, but eventually, their 27-year-old German popped up with a fortuitous strike from a set-piece.

Podolski is a reliable goal-threat and will work his way into dangerous positions, something that Gervinho and Andriy Arshavin lack in their game. On face value, many will still cry out that Arsenal lack the same quality but with Podolski, Olivier Giroud, Theo Walcott and Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain, the North Londoners have a very decent set of attacking options to fire the side up the table.

Wenger will be relying on the candid German international to continue his progressive form until the rest of the season—at least maintaining a fight for fourth spot.


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