Arsenal Focus - The best yet to come from Podolski
Saturday 29 December 2012
When Lukas Podolski arrived at Arsenal in the summer, he was a signing who polarised opinion. On the one hand, Podolski was a proven international footballer. He had been capped over 100 times for Germany - one of only seven players to have reached such a milestone - and had helped his country to impressive performances at World Cups and European Championships. With 44 international goals, his potency was hard to argue against.
However there was also the other side to Podolski. The Poland-born forward failed to set the Bundesliga alight after his last move to a big club. Bayern Munich shelled out €10m for Podolski in 2006 but he scored only 15 goals in three injury-plagued years at Die Bayern and left to re-sign for FC Köln with his tail between his legs. Three seasons later, he experienced relegation from Germany's top tier.
And so both supporters and the media were intrigued to see how Podolski would take to the Premier League. Would he integrate into Arsenal's fluid style of play flawlessly and find a home away from home in the dynamism of the English game? Or would he wilt under the pressure of a higher level of football, just like his time at Bayern?
The reality has been that Podolski has shown elements of both sides to his footballing personality. Eight goals in all competitions is a decent return considering that most of his football has come from the left flank in an inside forward role.
But Podolski has been all too anonymous in many Gunners matches, failing to make any meaningful contributions in several games. While Gervinho and Olivier Giroud have taken the majority of the criticism in Arsenal's misfiring attack, Podolski too must take his share of the blame. In addition, he is yet to complete a full 90 minutes in the Premier League - a statistic which raises questions about the German's fitness.
However foreign players coming into the English game often need time to adjust. The Bundesliga is an extremely competitive league in its own right, but still does not have the intensity of the Premier League. Therefore it may be fair to suggest that Podolski's form should improve in the second half of the campaign.
Arsene Wenger may be tempted to try and play Podolski in a more central role. With Giroud similarly hit-and-miss and Marouane Chamakh as misfiring as ever, using Podolski as a central striker could be worth a try - especially if contract rebel Theo Walcott leaves in January, as has been touted in the press.
The best is yet to come from Podolski and he does not have to look too far for added motivation - the Gunners take on his former club Bayern in the last 16 of the Champions League in the new year.
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