23 September 2014

Sorry, Poldi, but it's time for you to p!ss off.

Well, we're out of the league cup. Diaby didn't dominate as I had hoped, but there's an excuse lingering around the fact that he hadn't played much at this level since rupturing his ACL in March 2013. He failed to rise to the occasion, as did Wilshere, Rosický, and Chambers, among others. Most of them could look to the fact that they were seen on many occasions actually running if not with intent, then at least with intensity. Among those who played, only Alexis seems to have impressed, and not just with his smartly-taken spot-kick that left Foster flat-footed and flabbergasted. Sure, this was a patchwork quilt of a squad, one built to see what happens rather than take the match by the scruff. Even by that standard, the performance of Lukas Podolski was so poor as to leave only one conclusion: he's played his last match for Arsenal.

Now, I'm forced to backtrack a bit, but only because (a) it's September, not January; and (b) we may yet need him for something beyond #aha or cutesy, clever facebook status updates. At that level, I love the guy. Who wouldn't? However, at £100k or so per week, we should expect more. Heck, pay me £10k a week and I'll come up with a variety of endearing photobombs and hashtags. Please? In the meantime, direct the leftover £90k to someone like, I don't know, Carvalho. I'll have my people talk to Arsène and update you as necessary.

More to the point, Podolski's performance against Southampton on Tuesday was woeful. I'm not slating him for just one match, though; this has become a persistent, problematic theme. The man just doesn't work. If there's not a kebab involved, well, he just can't be bothered. Time and time again, he was merely trotting about, watching the match without doing much to impress. This was supposed to be, if anything, a chance for him to work his way back into the lineup after succumbing to injury and malaise last season. Instead, he lollygagged and generally made it seem like he couldn't be arsed. If we were winning 3-0 or perhaps playing in a pointless group-stage match, well, I guess I could make allowances. However, I would think that a man playing in a single-elimination tourney might put forth a bit of effort, if only to make it look like he was putting forth a bit of effort. Podolski couldn't even do that.

At the other end of things, even for as fruitless as their labors proved, Wilshere, Chambers, Alexis, and Rosický can at least claim to have broken a sweat. Surrounded by Academy players, they seemed to realized that a larger burden would fall to them, and they worked to rise to the occasion. Not Podolski. Instead of presenting himself as a target, á la Giroud, or making runs in behind the defense, as Welbeck might, Podolski did his level-best to convince us that we were watching a pick-up game in the park, jogging hither and yon without any real intent or purpose, just happy to be wearing the kit (and both of his own shin-guards, thankyouverymuch).

If you haven't already, look up at the player-ratings poll. Aside from the one "9" vote, the vast wasteland of votes skews to the left. His averaged player-rating comes out to a 3.45, suggesting that he not only failed to help the squad; he actively hurt it. I know full-well that some of these votes registered spite and disappointment, perhaps even a degree of scape-goating, but it's another bellwether indication. Podolski has been one of our most-accurate shooters, and most-prolific scorers, of the last two seasons (hardly a pedigree, but still worth pondering). What does it say of a player if so many of us still have so little faith in him to deliver?

He doesn't seem to fit into the squad. He's one-dimensional: see ball, kick ball. Gone, apparently, is his bromance with Giroud—both because of Giroud's injury but also because of Podolski's own indifferent form over the last year or so. Yes, he's delivered some stunners, but those start to feel increasingly like outliers, whether he's scored against Bayern or Hull.

I don't blame him for the result against Southampton on Tuesday—far from it. This result is more like the straw that broke the camel's back. Given a chance to distinguish himself, to prove that he could deliver, he seems to have opted against it. So he's a bit of a cut-up. Splendid. I hardly think that the squad will fall to squabbling, backstabbing, and recriminations if and when he does leave. Somehow, I sense that there's enough camaraderie in the squad to soldier on bravely. Chin up, Poldi. I hear that FC Köln sits 8th in the Bundesliga...