Arsenal vs. Coventry City: Lukas Podolski Makes His Point to Arsene Wenger

James McNicholasFeatured ColumnistJanuary 24, 2014

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Emirates Stadium, London


Lukas Podolski has only made four starts for Arsenal this season. However, he already has five goals.

Let’s put that achievement in perspective: Mesut Ozil, Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla also have five goals each in 2013/14. However, between them, that trio have started 68 games.

Podolski’s remarkable productivity is the result of his emphatic finishing ability. After the match, Arsene Wenger admitted to that the German is lethal in front of goal:

Podolski can score goals and when you have a goal chance you want him to have it. He is a clinical finisher and he has an unbelievable short and quick backlift. He is very accurate in his finishing. He can be effective, he can score goals when he starts and when he comes on, he is always dangerous.

Given Wenger’s declared admiration for Podolski’s talent, it's strange that he doesn't opt to use him more. Since returning from a hamstring injury in the middle of December, Podolski has made just two starts in Arsenal colours.

There is talk that Wenger may still buy a striker, but Podolski can play there. Henry Winter of of the Daily Telegraph is of the opinion that the German can fill the attacking void if needed.

Podolski at the double after Mertesacker flicked on Gnabry's corner. Wenger definitely won't be buying a striker now.

— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) January 24, 2014

Podolski is an upbeat and positive character, and there have been few signs of frustration from the Germany international. However, it must be difficult for him to be behind teenage compatriot Serge Gnabry in the pecking order. Wenger has spoken about his concerns over Podolski’s match fitness, but the only way he will attain that is by being afforded the chance to play.

When he was brought on as a substitute in Arsenal’s last game against Fulham, Podolski was patently determined to make an impact. He struck a series of fizzing shots at the Fulham goal and was only denied by some good goalkeeping and the post.

Against Coventry, there was no such impediment. Podolski grabbed the Gunners’ two opening goals, showing predatory nous with both finishes. First, he latched on to a through-ball from Mesut Ozil to go clear on the Coventry goal. Podolski usually opts for power, but in this instance, he deceived the onrushing Jim Murphy. Instead of blasting toward the far corner, he feinted and side-stepped around the goalie before tapping in to the exposed net.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 24:  Lukas Podolski of Arsenal (C) rises to score their second goal with a header during the FA Cup with Budweiser Fourth round match between Arsenal and Coventry City at Emirates Stadium on January 24, 2014 in London, England.
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His second goal was not a classic Podolski goal either. This time, he rose at the far post to nod home after Per Mertesacker had flicked on Serge Gnabry’s corner at the near post. Podolski’s threat is amplified by the fact that is scoring a broad variety goals. He is no one-trick pony.

Had Carl Jenkinson’s cut-back fallen on his left foot rather than his right, he might even have had a first-half hat trick. No matter: Podolski had already made his point in style. The German is the man best suited to replace Theo Walcott’s goal threat. If Arsenal have to restructure their midfield to accommodate him, than so be it.

It wasn’t just his composure in front of goal that impressed. Podolski also showed diligence in covering for his full-back and hugging the touchline, stretching the play and ensuring the likes of Mesut Ozil had space to flourish in the centre. However, it is his effectiveness in the final third that makes him invaluable to Arsene Wenger.

It is said that goals win games. In this form, the clinical Lukas Podolski could win Arsenal the title.


James McNicholas is Bleacher Report's lead Arsenal correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here.