It’s fair to say the signing of Lukas Podolski hasn’t exactly sent Arsenal fans into raptures, gooners are notoriously hard to please and exceptionally picky when it comes to new recruits, even those with nearly 100 caps for their countries. In theory the signing of such an established player should have been greeted with much more enthusiasm and there is a strong chance it would have had it not been on the cards since just after Christmas, a bit like getting an early birthday gift and being aware of its presence in the house but not being able to have it until the special day, you can still wrap it up but the excitement is long gone. This combined with two lifeless performances for Germany in their opening two group games and the continued will he won’t he saga surrounding captain Robin van Persie and you can’t blame Arsenal fans for not getting swept up in the excitement of new signings and the new season, not just yet anyway.
Podolski looked on helplessly as Koln tumbled out of the Bundesliga last season, he couldn’t have done much more in the end after enjoying his most productive campaign on a personal level, scoring 18 Bundesliga goals in 29 appearances. At only 27 years of age this is Podolski’s fourth major tournament for the German national side after bursting onto the international scene in the 2005 Confederations Cup. The striker’s proficiency in a German shirt has seen his position as a starter very rarely challenged, even though his domestic club form has fluctuated dramatically over the years with a failed spell at Bayern leaving many wondering whether he needs to be the big fish to really flourish. Another school of thought is it was simply the wrong time to move to Bayern, behind the likes of Klose and Toni a young Podolski just couldn’t settle after enjoying near royal status back home.
So far in Germany’s two workmanlike opening wins, which have come about largely due to the predatory instincts of Mario Gomez, Podolski has been anonymous in an attacking sense but has still managed to complete both 90 minutes. The role undertaken by the new Arsenal man couldn’t be further removed from his all action goal scoring displays of the Bundesliga season just gone, despite playing on the left of a front three it appears his role is more to contain and maintain shape, rarely advancing enough to think about going for goal himself. With German fans excited to see the likes of Mario Gotze, Marco Reus and Andre Schurrle, all capable of playing in Podolski’s position as part of a three pronged attack, it will be interesting to see if he starts and finishes Germany’s last group game against Denmark, a game which would see him earn his 100thcap. Despite Germany’s thrilling displays at the World Cup in South Africa, where Ozil and Muller took centre stage, there was a feeling that Podolski’s discipline out on the left could be replaced with more attacking clout by the time the next major tournament came around but Poldi remains Jogi Low’s first choice.
At only 27 years of age this is Podolski’s fourth major tournament for the German national side after bursting onto the international scene in the 2005 Confederations Cup.
“I have the feeling that his transfer to Arsenal is more on his mind than he likes to admit. Leaving his beloved Koln for Munich already caused him a lot of problems and the move abroad now is a considerable challenge for him. As things stand it does not look like Podolski can help the team.” Those were the words from the coach who signed him for Bayern in 2006, Felix Magath, after Germany beat Holland on Wednesday night. Podolski however has played down the pressures of joining a new club, “I don’t think I have anything to prove to Arsene Wenger, he has seen me play several times and knows what I can do.”
That much is true with Arsenal scouts making regular stops at the RheinEnergieStadion last season, perhaps the friendly game against Koln last summer getting the ball rolling. It’s happened before with Wenger admitting Vermaelen and Eduardo’s performances against his own team is what made him sign them.
With news that Arsenal are close to announcing the signing of the French striker Olivier Giroud from newly crowned Ligue 1 Champions Montpellier the fears over Robin van Persie leaving only intensify. However Arsene Wenger was fully aware that last season his team were one injury away from having to rely on either Chamakh or Park so the signing of another top striker and a versatile player in Podolski could help convince the Dutchman Arsenal are getting serious finally. Despite being able to play as the main striker or in just behind he will almost certainly be used in a wide left position at Arsenal competing with Gervinho who endured somewhat of a nightmare debut season in England.
Podolski’s trigger happy style is perhaps the most exciting feature of his game and what Arsenal fans have been starved of from wide positions; to have a player with such goal scoring potential instantly contrasts with the sort of faux wingers that Arsene Wenger has persisted with for far too long. Gervinho whilst being a slippery customer has struggled with end product managing only four goals after arriving with a reputation as a goal scoring winger on the back of two solid seasons for Lille. Podolski will instantly challenge van Persie as to who has the sweetest strike in the squad whilst also adding another option from direct set pieces, with van Persie despite enjoying his best season still lacking the threat he once posed from free-kicks. Despite his solid record for Germany Arsenal fans should expect to see a more liberated Podolski in the premier league next season, hopefully flanking a happy and contented captain after a summer of shrewd business. This is certainly an encouraging way to start.
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