During the last week of the transfer window, things can change quickly. It had seemed as if Lukas Podolski was headed for the exit door at Arsenal. However, in light of an injury to Olivier Giroud, the German international now seems set to stay with the club.
The writing had appeared to be on the wall for Podolski’s Arsenal career. Having belatedly returned to training after the World Cup, the German was then surprisingly left out of the matchday squad altogether for the clash with Everton at Goodison Park. That was taken as an indicator that he was no longer in Arsene Wenger’s plans. That seemed to be confirmed when his representative admitted to ESPN that the player was considering several offers for his services.
However, toward the end of the Everton game, Olivier Giroud pulled up with what initially appeared to be a twisted ankle. There are now suspicions that he may have broken a bone. According to Dominic Fifield of The Guardian, the France international could be absent for as long as three months. Speaking to Arsenal.com in his pre-match press conference for the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas, Arsene Wenger said:
He will not play tomorrow and he will see a specialist tomorrow. After that we will make an announcement of how long he will be out for.
It’s a big blow to Arsenal. Giroud had been superb after being introduced as a second-half substitute against Everton, helping the Gunners turn the game around and heading home a crucial late equaliser.
Without him, the Arsenal attack looks worryingly short of firepower. Giroud’s obvious replacements, Yaya Sanogo and Joel Campbell, are both yet to score a competitive goal in an Arsenal shirt. After his struggles at Goodison, Alexis Sanchez looks far from ready to play the lone striker role. Arsenal seem set to lose their best centre-forward, without an adequate replacement readily available.
That’s why Lukas Podolski can not be allowed to leave. Quizzed on the German’s future this afternoon, Arsene Wenger was unequivocal, telling the club’s official Twitter account:
Although Podolski has struggled to nail down a regular place in the team, he remains one of the squad’s most productive players in the final third. He is an expert finisher and has reached double figures for goals in each of the last two seasons.
Without Giroud, Arsenal can not afford to let Podolski go. Having failed to convince as a central striker in the past, Podolski is unlikely to be the direct replacement for the Frenchman in the Arsenal XI. Nevertheless, he can certainly help replace Giroud’s goal contribution. Wherever he is deployed, Podolski is a persistent threat to the opposition. Few Premier League players are quite so clinical as the dead-eyed German.
Giroud’s injury has handed Podolski a surprise reprieve. Arsenal fans will hope he seizes it with the same conviction with which he seizes upon chances in the penalty box.
James McNicholas is Bleacher Report's lead Arsenal correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2014/15 season. Follow him on Twitter here.