Lukas Podolski: Arsenal's best finisher?
Arsenal opinion: Lukas Podolski can be a key player for Arsenal next season
Lukas Podolski arrived at the Emirates Stadium with a solid reputation as a successful international striker for Germany.
Although his career in club football was not as glittering, with a brief and unsuccessful stint at Bayern Munich the only previous one at a big club, his 100+ caps for the German national side at just 26 - the youngest European to the milestone - was sprinkled with a goal nearly every two games for them.
Fast, skilful and a clinical left foot, he promised to be the replacement for Robin van Persie.
He started off well enough as his first goal for Arsenal in the Premier League campaign was a trademark left-footed Podolski strike at Anfield. He ended the season with 16 goals to his name, an adequate effort for a first season in the Premier League.
This in spite of playing without a winter break, which he was used to in Germany and which his manager at the Emirates, Arsene Wenger claims had an affect on him physically in the second half of the season.
Even then, the latter claims that the German is the best finisher in the side and when Olivier Giroud was out of the squad suspended for three games towards the end of the crucial run-in, it was the German and not the more prolific Englishman, Theo Walcott who got to start in the preferred central striking position.
Two goals at the Emirates against Wigan was the return the German had in the last four games, including the last game at St James' Park where Giroud, though available, was on the bench.
Wenger has been playing with a five-man midfield, and has abandoned the 4-4-2 system which was so successful for his side earlier. Even in this system it is a 4-2-3-1, with three attacking players supporting the lone out and out striker.
Podolski has been deployed on the left of the three-man support of the attacker. However, when Jack Wishere was sporadically fit and available for selection, it was Santi Cazorla who was moved to the left of the attacking trio to make way for the number 10.
This meant Podolski dropped to the bench and Cazorla's creativity was less used, which led to him drifting in to the middle and thus narrowing the width.
Next season, Arsenal have a lot going for them. The three teams who finished above them have all changed their managers and with no major first-team players likely to be shipped out, it is a season of hope for the Gunners.
Wishere has identified the problem of the slow start to games and the season as a whole as one of the problems faced by the team this season, and wants the team to start the season off running.
For this to happen, a slight rearrangement of personnel, with Wilshere playing the box-to-box role with Mikel Arteta at the base of the midfield, Cazorla playing up top with Walcott on the right, Podolski on the left supporting Giroud may just be the way forward for this clearly capable bunch.
With one season under his belt, the German may just add to his tally of thunder strikes for the Gunners.
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