0.38 goals per game, lethal as hell: Why did Wenger let him go?

Thanking VI for picture
Thanking VI for picture

It is a new year, and to us football fans that means it is transfer season. Uncharacteristically, we have started our business before everyone else albeit a departure. Podolski, who has endeared himself to all Gooners through his thumping goals when he did play and, more prominently, through his social media endeavours, has been loaned out to Inter Milan until the end of the season. Something tells me that this move is more permanent than the deal suggests, but we will have to wait and see how things pan out.

So the big question is, was Le Prof right to let him go?

Lukas Podolski is one of the most lethal finishers in world football. There aren’t many players who can strike a ball with as much ferocity & accuracy as Podolski can. He is always a scoring threat when he gets anywhere within 30 yards of the goal. Plus this is the kind of player who was willing to bleed for the shirt. In fact, I believe that if circumstances were different and he had the kind of impact on the club that Alexis is having now, he could have very easily inherited the Mr. Arsenal title from Tony Adams.

However, that was not the case and I would like to determine why. Poldi’s biggest undoing was his one dimensional nature. His best and arguably only attribute was his finishing/shooting/scoring, which presented a serious dilemma to the coach. Poldi is the kind of player who would be anonymous for 90% of the game but then finish the match with a brace. He did not influence games.

Poldi is not an out and out striker. He lacks the movement and awareness to be trusted with the CF role. In fact, I will go a step further and say that he was wanting in this respect. The few times he was played as a CF he was almost completely anonymous. He lacks the awareness to read the game and therefore doesn’t make telling runs or position himself in scoring opportunities. He also lacks the pace to run past defenders or the skill to beat them one on one. This, effectively, ruled him out as a winger.

With all this in mind, it is fair to conclude that his best position is as a second striker. This is the position where he excelled at Koln and Germany (occasionally). Unfortunately for him, that only works in a 4-4-2 formation which was long ago phased out at Arsenal. This means that as hard as Poldi tried, he was never going to fit in at Arsenal and at 29 years old, changing his game is out of the question. So as much as we love him, it was time he tried his hand elsewhere. I wish him all the best at Inter Milan.


Written by: Marcus.

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22 thoughts on “0.38 goals per game, lethal as hell: Why did Wenger let him go?

  • Nice, short and sharp post, Marcus. 🙂

    I think you sum it up really well. He is ideal for 4-4-2 and the questions always remains would it have been worth it trying this system out with him; and/or why did Wenger get him if he was not going to play 4-4-2 at all? He is the ideal football player for a five a side team: an absolute killer of a shot and a good assist maker as well.

    We have seen four players flop on the left wing in the last ten years or so: Reyes (homesick), Arshavin (work rate), Gervinho (finishing, decision making, lack of patience by fans), and now Podolski (work rate, general contribution to the team). With Alexis we finally have a top quality player and there are rumours that Wenger is looking for another quality, German addition for the LW…. 😉

    For me, he was the IDEAL super-sub, for when we desperately need a goal and that one and only chance needs to be taken…. We should not have let him go, but I understand that Pod needed game time and Wenger is (too) nice in that respect.

  • Nice return Marcus. However, I am not sure you will get many arguments from the regulars on here?
    You ask the question, and I agree with your answer, except the 4-4-2 bit. I think our 4-3-3 suited him well. As long as Gibbs was running the line outside him. For me, he was an old fashioned inside left. Alas, they don’t play with 5 up front any more.

    I also think if there was a blow up between them, it was because he did not get a start in that game, and Arsene had rubbished Inter’s loan move in the press. It might have looked like, to him at least, he was going to be glued to our bench until summer? Once words were spoken the Arsene ruthless streak kicked in, and he was ushered out the door so there was no negative vibes for the others to feed on. He was also very popular with the players, as well as the fans.

    I don’t get the latest chatter though. It does seem like Luca does not want come back. If not he is going about returning in a very funny way?

  • I think it’s the best decision to let him go.
    For Lukas it is important to get regular first team football because he loves to play and because he wants play for Germany again.
    The only sense I can make of Wenger rubbishing the Inter loan before is that he wanted to get more money.
    I agree that he doesn’t fit into the system we are playing atm. Honestly the only games I would ever start him are against Burnley, Leicester, Qpr at home….teams that come to the Emirates to park the bus.
    I think he does not have enough pace, creativity and one-on-one skills to play in our team regularly.
    We might miss his positivity in the dressing room a little bit, but I think we can easily cope with that.
    I hope he does well at Inter and we get a good amount of money in the summer 😀

  • Nice post Marcus… 🙂 Shame that you’re not around here in the comments… 😦

    Ah, Lulu… In many ways, like his goal to minute ratio, Lu (Lu-Lu, Lucas Poldolski…) was/is the greatest public relations success at Arsenal I’ve witnessed. Only Cesc and Henry (who both successfully got their moves to Barcelona, yet kept the fans on their side…) come close… When you add in why he got bought (to replace RvP…) and how he did on that account (not very well), it’s a testament to both player and manager that he’s made a successful move away and still retains the affections of supporters.

    The final assessment, however, is that Arsenal are NOT at the level where we can afford to pay high wages for guys who cannot contribute to the collective effort over a full 90 minutes. Let’s be clear, Arsenal have three employees on approx 150K year (Wenger, Ozil, Alexis) and a 2nd tier on approx 100K year. These guys (Cazorla, Giroud, Walcott, Ramsey) MUST contribute as first 11 players. If they don’t, the pressure on the club (from their highest-in-Europe season ticket buyers and the media…) will force their replacement. This is the situation with Poldolski… (and might put a scare into the others listed)…

    I think Lulu will do very well at Inter simply because the Italian league is less physical and will reward a fine technical player–with unwavering self-confidence. Will he take Inter to the next level where they can challenge for the Scudetto or make an upset or two in the CL?… I doubt it. Faster guys who can finish, i.e., forwards happy to play on the counter, is what the top level of Italian football is all about.

    It’s also what the top level of ALL football is about. As Nik suggests, Lulu should’ve been (at least) a flat track bully and a starter in the easier matches. His undoing was a lack of real stamina to give a good effort over the full 90 and the need to do so, in stretches at least, playing every 4 days… It was ALWAYS good to see him on the ball near the opponents box, but equally terrifying to see him attempting to defend (set pieces too…) or on the ball in our half. Photos from the gym notwithstanding, he was all smiles and a left foot… People will remember great blasts and some nice poached goals but which ones were truly meaningful? I’m trying (and my memory ain’t what it used to be…) but all I can think of are his late (and ultimately meaningless…) goals in those CL ties vs his old team (Bayern Munich). Those helped put a little gloss on the loss, and (maybe) also on our fondness for the player himself…

    Inter is a good spot for him. Like Arsenal they are a perennial challenger but they are subject more to the politics and scandals of the top two Italian teams (AC Milan and Juve) rather than a landslide of money as we now have in England with the spending at City, Chelsea and United. He’ll be fine and I wish him the best. I don’t think, however, that he’ll be the new Diego Milito (That’s for Gerry, btw… lol) whom they’re probably seeking, just as Mancini is not the new Moo… For us, if it means we’re buying an attacker to put on Lulu money, consider me excited. Draxler, indeed, if he can keep fit, would be a younger, taller and more exciting upgrade and a guy who can take on defenders 1 v 1. Cavani, maybe, would be almost as photogenic and certainly better looking (all that hair flowing behind him…) on the full sprint… As such, I fully expect both to stay put or land elsewhere, but I thought the same about Ozil and Alexis… 😀

  • TA,
    I appreciate the sentiments. And agreed he would have made a fine super sub but I doubt Poldi would have settled for that.

    Ideally yes, but like I mentioned, Poldi’s movement and awareness limited him. I noticed that sometimes when Gibbs overlapped, Poldi would be behind him. It is such traits that really influenced Wenger’s decision to let him go.

    Agreed 🙂

    I am here. Good points though. And i agree that for me, Draxler is a gamble worth taking. he is supremely talented & at 21 years old can go on to dizzying heights. I like Cavani too & if I had a say, I would bring him in and play Alexis & Theo alongside him. Easily a 60 goal a season strike force.

  • Hey Marcus… I meant that I wished you were a regular comment writer here… 🙂 Hopefully you keep up and read sometimes… You’ve had influence…TA was even stumping for Jagielka recently, whom (I’m pretty sure) you wanted a few windows back… You’re based in Kenya, right? Any news on longer term plans from Wanyama?… Print them here and the whole Goonersphere will soon know… maybe?…

    Anyhow, regarding Poldolski…I think we’re morphing into a pressing and counter-attack team and thus we need forwards with solid running and hold-up skills. The game’s just too short and opponents are allowed to play with enough aggression so that we can’t simply saunter forward with the ball and then try and beat the parked bus. Welbeck, a far less accomplished finisher, for example, was getting the nod ahead of Lu-lu… With Theo back in the fold, we should be even better in this regard… Poldi and Giroud were both bought in the same window (when RvP was busy writing us letters)…The latter seems to have won out and Lu-lu’s loan might’ve gone through in the Summer but for Giroud’s injury…

    Draxler over Cavani, I say, but he’s had a hard time finding true fitness… Can’t see anything at that level happening in this window. Tapping up (and/or letting the media do it for you…) however, is always an option with an eye to the future…

  • Nice post Marcus. 17ht great job explaining the 1st and 2nd salary tiers, i think of it in the same way, and im sure Arsene and Ivan do also. These guys need to play alot to be worth what we pay them..

    a good example is sagna getting near the top of our range to be backup rb in man city… behind the excellent zabaleta.. we cant do things like that.. we must find value and we have in a better player debuchy and bellerin who is an incredible prospect from barca system… and they were angry when we took him.

    We also got value in Alexis., i stated that he was a steal at 30-35mil. I think we will be smart enough to give him a raise and put in a suarez type buyout clause.or at least see a huge valuation.

  • 17Highburyterrace
    Thank you for the sentiment. I still think Jagielka is a solid defender but he is too old now for it to be a sensible buy. This year onwards I am back so you will see a lot of me on here. I am based in Kenya.
    Regarding Wanyama, it has been long since we spoke so I’m not sure what his long term plans are. That said, I know that he ultimately wants to join a top 4 champions league team so if we were to make an offer for him, he would be more than willing to join. Considering how well he is marshaling the Soton midfield with schneiderlin, I say he’d make a fantastic buy.

    One thing I have to say, Alexis has been the bargain buy of last summer’s window. His performances put him (currently) at the 50-75M pound price bracket. Even barca must be scratching their heads wondering where was this Alexis all along.

  • Marcus

    im sure playing next to messi destroys a players style. One reason i dont like the messi, suarez neymar idea, it may work well enough for them, but each of suarez and neymar would probably be much more impactful and productive in a different team.

    Forget django, Alexis Unchained !

  • Jnyc,
    That is absolutely true. When you play for Barca, Real & to a large extent PSG, Messi, CR7 & Ibra respectively take center stage. As a result all other players have to align their game to theirs. That is why we are seeing Alexis, Cesc & Di Maria playing at a level never seen before. And that is why I am pro Cavani joining us. I think Cavani is stuck in ibra’s shadow & his affair with PSG is about to come to an end. When it does, Wenger best be at the front of the queue.

    He says that we have enough attacking players but did we not have more than enough creative players when we signed Ozil. His argument was, when an absolutely world class player becomes available you go for him. Well, There is no No. 9 at Arsenal (i.e. Giroud, Welbz & Sanogo) who is at Cavani’s level so his argument applies here too.

  • Besides, a front three of Alexis, Theo & Cavani supported by the midfield we have consists of a champions league contending team, wouldn’t you agree?

  • @ Marcus.

    cheers for the great read. I think Podolski is an icing on the cake style of player. A player that doesn’t have to work hard but when he gets his chance he definitely makes it count. Not really what we can afford at the moment.

    @ JNYC and Marcus

    agreed (messi comments and messing with styles). I think that’s why Henry started to become detrimental before he left. The young players would just pass to him and say “do your stuff” instead of playing to their strengths. How could you not? You’d feel the same playing with Messi.

  • @ Marcus

    Cavani at Arsenal…amazing.

    Imagine an Arsenal team with Cavani, Wanyama and a backup CB… 🙂

    Although they’d probably be countered by injuries to Alexis, Ramsey, Kozzer, Theo and Ozil. 🙂

  • oz,
    Exactly. Bringing Cavani to Arsenal and making him our main man up front would bring his Napoli form back. In three seasons he scored 97 goals i.e. over 30 goals a season.

    As for DM, my first choice would be Schneiderlin. At 25 years he is primed to make that position his for years to come.

  • I would love cavani, schneiderlin, but i think they are only a dream.. i think Arsene is satified welbz, and giroud.. remember he went with giroud and sanogo…
    I dont think he likes to spend money on defensive players., he thinks he can create or convert in those positions. So dm would be a cheap one, or a 17 yr old..
    I really think coquelin has earned more starts as we are now.. arteta makes a great captain as a man, but should not be number 1 in the position, or have his contract extended at his age.

  • Marcus

    Short and good post. We are agreed. I would have phrased it that we never had the right combinations with him that we do with others, but it’s the same thing.

    One point I would add, equally, per comments about how Alexis changed to fit Messi and then again to fit Arsenal. Podolski had a few years to change to fit Arsenal so that his gifts would be maximized and didn’t. That perhaps says something about his motivations and true ability. Equally, his decreasing game time relative to ability, might well also have been AWs comment on his inability (I doubt it) or lack of desire (I more strongly suspect) to change.

    Re: having a Messi. Here’s some heresy to fire folks up. Two bits really:

    A. Messi’s are combo dream and nightmare. The dream is obvious but the bottleneck they create and changes they force around them can be a nightmare. Equally, when they eventually retire, the hole is gaping

    Thus …

    B. One reason Henry is, I dare to say, BETTER, than Messi is that he had almost similar impact on the team, but without forcing others around him to adapt or be supporting players. To me, that requires more. Admittedly said with all sorts of home ground bias.

    Cheers — jgc

  • Nice little post, Marcus. I feel that I should mention it was your maiden post– on the benefits of signing Victor Wanyama– long, long ago that brought me to this fine blog. Somehow it appeared on a news stream of an application (Bleacher Report perhaps?) that i used to check on my phone. Just an odd bit of fate i suppose 🙂 So cheers, mate. Have always enjoyed your writing and insight.

    Anyways. Not sure I’m too shaken up by the Poldi departure. Yeah he had a killer left foot and yeah his social media endeavors were good for the club but I can’t remember any other significant contributions (as many others have mentioned). A part of me always thought that the signing of his German compatriot and our record signing would really boost his Arsenal career but, as we all know, that never really panned out. Wether it was down to them taking turns on injury duty or the fact that they never truly had an extended run of games together.. we’ll be left wondering, as I just don’t see Lukas returning home.

    On the Cavani rumors.. I would pass. The front line is the least of our concerns right now.

    Still saying a little prayer every night that we land the fabled DM this window… Hopeful? Probably.

  • Macko and Xavier, and other French and Nigerian Gooners,

    Really sorry to hear about the horrendous terrorist attacks in your countries and the large loss of lives (especially in Nigeria). Stay strong and together my friends.

  • New Post, New Post 🙂

    Extremely short one, as I have little time. But plenty of scope to add your views re line up and game in general.

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