17 January 2014

Arsenal v. Fulham: Podolski's Complaint

Ahead of Fulham's visit to the Emirates Saturday, it's high time that we decide on who's most likely to take this match my the scruff and make damn-well sure that all three points stay just where they bloody well belong—right here at the Emirates. All three. Fulham's last two trips have seen them snatch a point. Fulham. As in "we're proud to be mid-table, thrilled to take on aging, past-their-prime Spuds" Fulham.

The Hammer of Mjölnir. It does make evening strolls a bit dicey.
Two years ago, we went from a Vermaelen own-goal to a Vermaelen equalizer to salvage a precious point. Last year, it was a Keystone Kops affair, a 3-3 draw that could have and perhaps should have ended 4-3 had Arteta done better with a last-minute penalty-kick. These offer two different facets of a multi-faceted problem over the previous several seasons when our own weaknesses, just as much if not more than our opponents' strengths, have been our own undoing. At various points, we have been among the most generous of teams when it came to errors leading to an opponent's goal, and one of the areas in which we've shown the most improvement, after all, has been in reducing such errors.

Sadly, Vermaelen and Arteta, mares of those previous matches (if only in those key moments), won't be available on Saturday in order to avenge themselves on the Cottagers. I would love nothing more than to call for each man to bag a brace, each assisting the other, while at the other end turning away any attack Berbatov & Co, LLC could muster on our way to a 4-0 win. It's not to be, not tomorrow at least. So it goes. In their stead, then, someone else will have to step up, but who? Will it be Podolski, scorer or two goals in the 3-1 win at Fulham back in September before his injury? After all, he leads the current squad in goals against Fulham (three goals, three appearances). However, he's been so thoroughly marginalized even after his return that he can barely seem to find any time on the pitch, and the rumors around other left-wing targets, be they Draxler or Ntep or others, suggest that he's running out of time to prove himself.

However, there's no guarantee that he'll even appear, much less start. Then again, with Cazorla also struggling to rediscover the form that made him Arsenal's Player of the Year, and with his hiccup leading to Aston Villa's goal on Monday, it might be time to wield once again the Hammer of Mjölnir—that lethal left-foot of Podolski, unleashing concussive thunderbolts at goalies and woodwork alike, while Poldi exclaims, exultantly "AHA! to be a center-forward, a center-forwardand nothing more!"

After all, perhaps alone among the midfielders, Poldi does not flit or dance or pirouette on the ball; that is not his game, no. Give him the ball and let him turn and shoot. Play him centrally with Cazorla and Gnabry flanking him and with Özil behind him, and let him pummel the Cottagers into submission, hammering them with shot after thunderous shot. They, as well as the woodwork and the net it holds up, will succumb, and we will have back the Poldi we have come to know and love, and he will deliver. Therefore, with these ramblings in mind, I'm amending my own match preview, in which I called on Wilshere to be anointed as Man of the Match. Please, Arsène, play Podolski through the middle, and let him lay waste to the Cottagers' defense.