As Arsenal prepare to face Manchester United this afternoon, Vincent Ralph turns the spotlight on the Gunner's German forward.
Prior to his move to Arsenal, Lukas Podolski only registered in many English fans’ minds for a few weeks every two years.
It was then – either at a World Cup or a European Championship – that his performances and goals for Germany prompted praise and transfer speculation in equal measure. And then the tournament ended and we forgot about him again.
But when he moved to the Emirates this summer – as one half of the proposed solution for Robin van Persie’s exit along with Olivier Giroud – I believed he would take the Premier League by storm.
And yet Gunners fans have seen only flashes of brilliance, with talk earlier this month that the 27-year-old had grown so disillusioned with his lack of game time he was considering moving on.
Used predominantly as a left winger, Podolski may finally get his chance today to show what he can do up front.
Or more specifically, remind Arsene Wenger what he can do; because his goal-scoring record both for country and previous clubs speaks for itself.
With preferred frontman Giroud suspended following his dismissal against Fulham, Wenger has a decision to make. And should Podolski get the nod, he must use today’s game against Manchester United to make himself that much harder to drop or shunt back to the wing.
It is a tactic many managers including Wenger have used in the past – playing a forward out wide either to earn their spurs or for tactical purposes.
But Podolski learnt the game long ago, while the sixth highest goal-scorer in the history of the German national team has already shown he is pretty useful through the middle.
In his last season at Cologne, the forward scored 18 league goals for a side that was ultimately relegated. And yet this season, for a team currently third in the league and with creativity aplenty, he has just nine.
A further nine assists (and 10 in all competitions) suggests Wenger’s use of him is paying off to a degree. And yet all eyes will be on him this afternoon as he strives to score the goals that will force a managerial rethink.
Okay, so most eyes will actually be on an opposing striker. But that could be to Podolski’s advantage.
He must attempt to re-write tomorrow’s story, from the unwanted return of van Persie, to the belated arrival of his replacement.
How will Podolski perform this afternoon? And should he be given a prolonged run as a central striker?
image: © sdhansay