03 December 2013

Aha! The Return of Podolski

Speaking ahead of Wednesday's clash with Hull, Arsène has confirmed that Lukas Podolski, who has been out since scoring a brace against Norwich Fulham on August 24th and adding an assist against Fener on August 28th, will return to normal training later this week. Without committing to a specific date, Arsène did go as far as saying that Podolski "should be back in normal training after the Hull game" and that "he will then be available, but he lacks match fitness. It will take at least a week with normal training to consider him fit for the squad." He'll miss the Hull match, of course, and will certainly miss Everton on the 7th. It's possible that he could be available to face Napoli on the 11th but more likely that we'd have to wait until the Man City match on the 14th before he makes any appearance—most likely a substitution.

What this means for the handsome Frenchman who has slogged and and dragged his way through almost every single competitive fixture we've had to this point is that he'll probably have to continue to the brunt of the heavy lifting for a few more weeks. In my match preview, I've suggested that Bendtner start against Hull on Wednesday, but I'm not sure if Arsène is a regular visitor to this site. Meh. Even when Podolski does return, starting him as a center-forward would change how we play. He's not built nor is he inclined to play with his back to goal, and so we would more likely see him playing through the left, a position from which he delivered 15 of his 17 goals and 9 of his 10 assists last season, the others coming from his six appearances as the center-forward. We might get away with playing him there from time to time, but even against the weaker opponents, he didn't deliver much from the center—two goals and an assist in 450 minutes against Sunderland, Reading, Man U, QPR, Wigan, and Newcastle. Maybe we'll see him take over from Giroud at the end of the month against West Ham or Newcastle, maybe as a late sub for Giroud against Man City or Chelsea.

At any rate, I'm salivating over the idea of seeing him prowl the left flank. His delicious, thunderous left—a stürmischschlag, if I may use an online translator—is something we've missed despite how well we've done to this point. Simply put, he's one of the few players who can take a shot from 25 yards and send a frozen rope at a terrified keeper. The thought of him getting service from fellow German national Mesut Özil has me drooling even more. We've scored some nifty, tiki-taka goals in recent weeks, but I would love to see a sexy, screaming shot tear through the back of the net. As far as I can find, however, the two have not yet linked up for club or country. I reckon that'll change sooner rather than later, and I'm positively giddy with delight and don't care how silly I sound when I say so.