From 2012-2015, Lukas Podolski appeared 60 times in an Arsenal shirt with only 19 goals to his name, but it could have been so much better. The powerful German was an excellent player with a thunderbolt shot and an eye for goal but Wenger appeared not to be a fan.
His time at the club saw its share of niggling injuries, but he was a firm fan favourite who looked to be a complete menace in front of goal. Wenger didn’t really help matters by using the predator as a winger to compliment his other strikers and having bought him from FC Köln, he appeared to regret his decision rather quickly.
Wenger just couldn’t get the best from the striker and to be fair, Lukas Podolski was more of a traditional attacker than the athletic Thierry Henry mould.
He was solid but surprisingly agile, he could hold up the ball or push forward on a solo foray. In my opinion, Wenger just gave up and made Lukas Podolski the last resort option, either as a starter or sub.
Podolski’s arrival sparked rumours that Robin Van Persie would be sold which Wenger vehemently denied, but he was. Why else would the Frenchman have drafted the highly-rated German in? Reading between the lines, Wenger went for Podolski because he knew Van Persie wouldn’t extend his stay.
The stage was set for Lukas Podolski to carve out a niche for himself in the Arsenal side because of his adaptability to various formations and styles. He just never had the chance. Fans still respond well to Podolski with many blaming Wenger for not finding a solution to the problem and he is certainly guilty of that.
When Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez arrived, that was virtually it for Podolski and Arsenal. It’s something which has bemused many including the player himself, who still warmly tweets about his former team. Podolski said of his Arsenal adventure:
“I didn’t get enough game time; I felt that I performed well and didn’t get the minutes I deserved,”
“On the other hand, if you look at my stats, I played in about 80 matches and was directly involved in a lot of goals by scoring or assisting.”
“My relationship with the fans and players was positive. We won the FA Cup in 2014, which was the club’s first trophy for quite a few years. And I liked living in London, in Hampstead. My family enjoyed it, too.”
Wenger preferred players like Sanchez, Podolski didn’t fit the mould and with each opportunity that passed him by, the German sealed his own move in the eyes of his manager.
I would have liked to have seen more of Podolski and felt that he would have proved himself eventually. The striker could take some comfort that Wenger’s preference for the Chilean striker would eventually bite him on the ass, in a legendary standoff that saw Arsenal players turn on their legendary boss.