Podolski could prove to be Arsenal's ace in the hole; Mourinho has no excuses

Jose Mourinho Chelsea

Stephen Pickering gives his opinion on the top news stories of the day. Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United, Newcastle United and Stoke all feature.

Arsenal are close to welcoming back German legend Lukas Podolski, and I am tipping the former Bayern Munich striker to be key to Arsenal's title chances this season.

Arsene Wenger confirmed that the influential front man was back in training, but it could be a while before he is re-introduced into first team action:

''Podolski has been out for a long time and is still a bit short of match fitness because he only had his first training session today [friday]. But it's good news to have him back''

This season for a lot of players is all about the build-up to the World Cup finals in the summer and for Podolski, it will be no different. 

The former World Cup young player award winner has always been integral to Germany's national football side, but faces fierce competition for a place in the side for the games in Brazil..

Chelsea's Andre Schurrle and Manchester United target Marco Reus are likely competition for Podolski and that sets the standard of targets he will have to reach to earn a starting place in the side, and I am backing him to do just that. 

At the peak of his career, he has a terrific chance to play a key role in Arsenal's title challenge, and lifting the Premier League trophy later this season will do wonders to his chances. 

I am sure that it won't be long until he adds to his 46 goals and 111 games for Germany.

The big news from the Premier League games yesterday was the losses for both Mourinho and Moyes. 

David Moyes was left fearing for his job after Manchester United crashed to another home defeat to Newcastle United, their second home loss in a week. Critics strongly cited that he needed a win today to relieve the pressure on his shoulders, but instead he has poured fuel on the flames and will not doubt stay away from his phone for the next few days. 

Mourinho can have no excuses for himself or his side after crashing to a 3-2 defeat to Stoke City. The one-off defeat to Stoke is not the problem on it's own but there is a worrying trend of slip-ups against sides they should comfortably be putting to bed, particularly in the past couple of months.

Chelsea lost inexplicably to Newcastle United, despite having the majority of the play. This was followed up by a controversial point against West Bromwich Albion, where they needed the aid of the referee to get a last minute penalty. 

Their last game against Sunderland was far from convincing, particularly defensively as they conceded 3 goals and the same problem arose against Stoke. 

They have struggled to keep out two of the lowest scoring sides in the division, whether it's due to arrogance, poor preparation or whatever, it needs to change.

Their next two games against Steaua Bucuresti and Crystal Palace are ones they should be looking to get clean-sheets from, as they look to quash questions over their backline. 

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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