Arsenal - It's Lukas Podolski time!

Mertesacker Podolski Giroud

This weekend is the perfect moment to bring Lukas Podolski back into the Arsenal squad whether Arsene Wenger plans to use him or not.

Gary Neville highlighted it after the loss in Napoli. Arsenal need a lift particularly up front. Fortunately a solution might be just around the corner when they need it most.

Lukas Podolski is on the fringes of coming back to first team action, and he can give the Gunners that little bit extra they need heading into the weekend's match against City.

First, his fitness: Podolski returned to full training at the end of last week with Arsenal, and took part in the last session with the team ahead of the trip to Napoli.

Arsene Wenger decided not to fly him out however as he had no intention to play him and wants to handle him carefully. Podolski meanwhile will have been undertaking extra training to get him up to speed for the weekend.

Wenger will give an official update on Podolski in his morning press conference, but as it stands the German forward is available for selection if the manager wants him.

Which brings us to...

It's Lukas Podolski time:

Providing there are no setbacks, Wenger simply has to include Podolski in the squad to face Manchester City.

Podolski has been dubbed a 'cheerleader' in recent months by young Gunners Thomas Eisfeld and Serge Gnabry in interviews, which tells you much about how passionately the attacker feels about the team.

He is active on social networks and always discussing the team, and is arguably the most popular character in the dressing room and among the fans.

And that's what it boils down to, if he is fit as has been suggested, Wenger must take Podolski with the squad to City and hand him a place on the bench.

That alone will generate a huge buzz among his teammates, lift the spirits of the fans, and demonstrate the club's strength at a time they need to show it.

Even if Wenger has no intention of playing Podolski at all, or for more than 5 to 10 minutes if he is desperate, simply by having him there on the bench he can push his teammates on.

Oliver Giroud will surely have his morale boosted knowing it is not all on him any more, but also told he has to step it up or he could be replaced.

As for Manchester City, Podolski's presence can throw their plans into a little jeopardy if they have not accounted for the fact he could feature. Seeing him on the bench and knowing he could come on may cause City to preserve their energy knowing the late push the German could bring at the end of the game.

There is surely nothing to lose for Arsenal to bring Podolski in and sit him on the bench provided he is still fit, and if he is in condition to play, then bringing him on could make all the difference.

The German will kick his team on when he makes it onto the pitch, and those small moments are crucial in such tough atmospheres as the one Arsenal will face at City at the weekend.

Podolski is capable of scoring a goal from nothing, and if he does make it onto the pitch it would be hard to bet against him popping up with a crucial strike.

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

Register for ARSENAL team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch