I think you’d be hard pressed to find an Arsenal fan who doesn’t love Lukas Podolski. But just what is it we love about him? Is it the smiley, jolly, affable Poldi who’s become famous for his friendly tweets (#AHA) and the endless photos of him with a broad smile on his face, or is it what he contributes on the pitch?
There’s no question that his social media presence connects him with fans in a really positive way. As he often mentions in his tweets, he is not just a player but a true football fan. His passion for his beloved FC Koln whom he joined as a six year old is just as it should be. He’s a football fan living the dream, joining his boyhood club and making it through to their first team. A stint at Bayern Munich aside, it was FC Koln all the way until Arsenal came calling.
Just like his German compatriot, Per Mertesacker, he seems to totally understand the importance of the player-fan connection which he clearly loves to embrace, so it’s easy to see why fans love him back.
But what about Poldi the player? It’s no secret that he came close to leaving Arsenal this summer but in recent days he’s spoken of an important conversation with Arsène Wenger who apparently indicated that he relies on him and the qualities that he brings to the team.
Doubtless the injury to Olivier Giroud at Everton put paid to any ideas Wenger had about Podolski leaving and so for now at least he remains and we will continue to enjoy his cheeky, happy personality, but what can we expect from Poldi on the pitch?
There’s no doubt that in front of goal he can be lethal. Indeed, I recall Wenger not so long ago alluding to the fact that there’s no player he’d rather see on the ball that Podolski when he’s in on goal because he is such a clinical finisher.
His stats up to the end of last season bear this out with 19 goals and 11 assists in 54 appearances in the Premier League. These stats are even better when you take into account minutes played. His minutes per goal involvement ratio at 97 mins was the third best in Premier League history, behind Sergio Aguero and a certain Thierry Henry. Impressive stuff indeed!
He’s been a regular in the German squad for many years and let’s face it, that wouldn’t have happened unless he was pretty damn good, yet despite now being a World Cup Winner he was only a bit part player in this summer’s tournament.
So what is it about him that seems to make some fans, myself included and Wenger especially question him?
At Arsenal, is playing him out wide the way to get the best from him? On the occasions he’s been used in a more central role his performances haven’t suggested that’s his best position. Also, in many games I’ve watched from the stands, he’s often appeared somewhat anonymous for long periods, yet he clearly has something to offer the team. Could his work rate improve? Is his style of play compatible with the Arsenal way? Perhaps he’s better as an impact sub, or maybe it’s about who’s on the pitch with him; does he thrive better with certain players around him?
So many questions, it’s a real conundrum and I’m not sure if there’s an obvious answer. Whether his place at Arsenal is a temporary reprieve or now gives him a chance to firmly establish himself remains to be seen. What’s clear is that if we can find a way to get the best out of him, he will undoubtedly prove a valuable asset and contribute some vital goals for us this season.
Mean Lean's Response
Lukas Podolski remains one of the strangest players I have ever watched in an Arsenal shirt. I don't think I've ever seen such a contrasting player in one body. A world class finisher with a super charged left foot trapped in a remarkably average football body. It leaves me chopping and changing my view of him almost every time I watch him. After a brace I say that he cannot be left out due to his goals but after a game where I almost forgot he was playing I want someone who will do more for the team even if he scores far less.
Christopher Overton wrote an excellent piece on Podolski recently and it pretty much sums him up for me. That said, I am more than glad he has stuck around even if that is because of Giroud's injury. You'd take goals on the bench rather than less goals on the bench plus he is a wonderfully likeable character and that can only be good for the dressing room