Should Arsenal sell Lukas Podolski this summer?

Mertesacker Podolski Giroud

The German has been linked with a move to Inter Milan in recent days and could be tempted after being forced to play a bit-part role so far this season.

When Arsenal announced that they had agreed a deal in principle with 1. FC Cologne for Lukas Podolski, there was a mixture of excitement and intrigue amongst the Gunners fanbase.

On the one hand, you had a man who had amassed - at the time - just shy of 100 international caps for Germany and with 49 goals to boot, his pedigree was exactly the sort Arsene Wenger had been condemned for not acquiring in a trophyless run, stretching back to 2005.

But there always remained an element of suspiciousness about the move, at a reputed cost of £10.9m.

Podolski simply did not seem to fit the Arsenal blueprint, the Wenger way if you prefer. His counter-attacking style, which had yielded a wealth of goals, played perfectly into Germany's hands but it remained unclear whether he could transfer that across to the Gunners' short passing game.

At Cologne, too, he was played in a prominent role up front and had scored more goals than the rest of the team-mates (16) during his farewell season at his hometown club.

But his form with Germany has been at a consistently high level mainly out on the left wing, where Wenger also sought to deploy him upon arrival.

With Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott alongside him, Gunners fans began to speculate over whether they finally possessed a midfield and attack capable enough to arrest the slide of recent seasons.

But it hasn't quite panned out how they would have hoped. Podolski's Gunners career has seen him score 22 times in 61 games and, given Olivier Giroud's struggles against the top sides in the Premier League, much more is expected of the German.

He has become little more than an impact sub for Wenger this season and his decision not to bring him on in a number of games this season has sparked exasperation amongst the Emirates Stadium faithful who feel he deserves some part to play in a season which appears on the verge of collapse.

So, with newspaper reports suggesting Inter Milan are eyeing up a move for Podolski, should the Gunners cut their losses and offload the misfiring German this summer? Or does he have a role to play?

The stats hardly read in Podolski's favour. They also serve to reinforce the point that he is not getting into goalscoring positions enough and, being stationed out on the left wing, appears at odds with the role he is being asked to perform.

Naturally Giroud, as the spearhead, has more chances per game at 3.19 but it is still a huge gulf between him and the German, who takes on just 1.50 per match.

But interestingly, his accuracy fares better than that of the Frenchman. His 0.7 on target still works out at a relatively paltry 47% but it emphasises how wasteful in front of goal Giroud has proven this term when he posts 31% with his shooting.

Giroud dominates the chances his other team-mates create, naturally, and was condemned for failing to stick away either that the attacking ranks behind him mustered up against Chelsea over the festive period.

There was a lingering sense that if Podolski had found himself in either position, he may well have bagged the winner.

It epitomises the Frenchman's profligacy that he also posts 0.58 big chances missed per appearance, whereas Podolski is down at 0.10.

There is equally an argument that the German is not on the receiving end of nearly as many but there is no way of telling Podolski's ruthlessness in front of goal - one of the reasons he was presumably snapped up - if he is not being given the chance to take them.

The idea of his counter-attacking prowess being stymied is also evident when you consider that even Giroud has only 0.12 of that type of chance per game, while Podolski is just below at 0.10. 

Therein lies his problem, he is unable to get into those positions because he is being asked to perform in a manner which simply does not suit his strengths.

Arsenal have lacked pace without Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Aaron Ramsey for large parts of this season and it has robbed Arsenal of outlets to provide Podolski with enough opportunities to make a mark.

The fact Giroud also misses 1.19 chances from inside the area per game is surely enough to convince Wenger to go big in his efforts to land a big-name striker this summer.

The potential sale of Podolski would add considerable funds to the kitty and rid the club of a player who, while perfectly good enough for this team, is being marginalised through a clash of preferences.

NameTeamPosTotal Scoring Att / appsOntarget Scoring Att / appsBig Chance Missed / appsAtt Fastbreak / appsAtt One On One / appsAtt Ibox Miss / appsAtt Obox Miss / appsBig Chance Scored / appsAppsMins
Olivier Giroud Arsenal FW 3.19 1.00 0.58 0.12 0.19 1.19 0.23 0.31 26 2,244
Lukas Podolski Arsenal FW 1.50 0.70 0.10 0.10 0.10 0.20 0.10 0 10 449

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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