Wenger: Podolski is a central striker

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has asserted his belief that forward Lukas Podolski is a centre-forward, despite the German having been deployed on the left wing all season.

I wrote an article earlier on in the season questioning why the Gunners’ boss wasn’t playing Podolski though the middle – this was at the time when Theo Walcott was posturing over his contract and was expressing his desire to be the main man in the middle.

I still believe that Podolski is currently Arsenal’s most clinical and dangerous finisher – his goal against Norwich at the Emirates on Saturday demonstrates that aptly.

Firstly, he hasn’t played that much – he’s made 36 appearances for Arsenal this term, 7 as a substitute and in an astonishing 25 games he has been taken off before full time. That means he’s played a full 90 minutes just 4 times this season for Arsenal.

I don’t know whether that’s down to his fitness – it’s surely not his form that’s the issue; he’s scored 14 goals and made 11 assists. Not bad for a winger. Not bad at all.

However, Lukas Podolski is not a winger. The manager even said so himself this week:

“I work a lot with him as a central striker at the moment. He is a quality player and when he comes on you can see that straight away. You don’t get 100 caps by luck. Honestly he has a great attitude. He never moans, he never has a bad phase, he is always positive.”

“I think he can play as a central striker as well,” Wenger added.

If Wenger thinks the German is a striker then, pardon my French but, why the hell hasn’t he put him there? Olivier Giroud has had a relatively decent debut season in the Premier League but he’s not exactly set the world on fire – it’s not as if his incredible form has made him impossible to compete with.

Theo Walcott proved himself to be nothing more than a pretender to Thierry Henry’s throne during his brief spell through the middle and as for Gervinho, the less said about him, the better, frankly.

Why Arsene Wenger hasn’t played his best finisher in the position he’s most dangerous is beyond me – every single one of Podolski’s league goals have been scored from the middle, in and around the penalty area and the ‘D’.

Not only is it a waste of his talents chasing up and down the wing, covering for the likes of Andre Santos (bet he doesn’t miss his Brazilian chum) but it isolates him on the flank and reduces his effectiveness – he would have far more impact on the game if he were deployed centrally.

It is something Wenger has always like to do – he makes forwards prove themselves on the flank and then moves them inside eventually. Perhaps this season has just been Lukas Podolski’s right of passage.

He’s proved himself on the wing; now give him his chance through the middle.

image: © sdhansay

Register for ARSENAL team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch