Lukas Podolski wasting space at Arsenal

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Arsenal forward Lukas Podolski has taken on the status of cult hero at the Emirates over the last two seasons or so, but behind the prolific social media posting is a player who simply isn't justifying his position as a fan favourite with performances on the pitch.

Podolski earns a reported £100,000-a-week salary at the Emirates and has a first-class international pedigree, with a World Cup winners medal to match his 118 caps for Germany.

Quite frankly though he's a player Gunners boss Arsene Wenger doesn't trust to start in big matches and rarely deserves game time, just look at his frankly pathetic display against Southampton in the League Cup last night.

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Sanchez shows Poldi up against Saints

Wenger picked Podolski for the first this season in Tuesday's Capital One Cup clash, on the left side of a front three also featuring Alexis Sanchez and Joel Campbell.

Sanchez was terrific and besides curling in a terrific free kick from range also showed tremendous desire to hustle defenders into mistakes when out of possession, a quality Podolski simply doesn't seem to possess.

Podolski sauntered around at his own place and was absolutely anonymous when moved into the middle.

Now I'm sure a small section of Arsenal fans will point out that Podolski is still working his back from the World Cup, but he was a peripheral figure in that tournament to put it mildly.

If only the 29-year-old had half the work-rate of Sanchez the Gunners would have a genuine world-class player on their hands, but there's no willingness to press or track back and as a result opposing full-backs always know there's a chance to bomb forward unmarked when they play against Arsenal's crown prince.

What is all the fuss about?

You could forgive Podolski for being pretty lazy if his reputation as a ruthless finisher stacked up, but he got one chance against Saints and from a tight angle could only curl a relatively tame shot in the direction of Fraser Forster.

The shocking display wasn't an isolated incident either, Podolski often goes missing just when Arsenal need him to step up and be counted, and that's if he even gets to complete 90 minutes.

Podolski only completed the full 90 minutes in the Premier League five times last season, which even when you take into account a long-term spell on the sidelines with a hamstring injury is a pretty damning statistics.

Wenger didn't even bring Podolski off the bench during crunch home games against Chelsea and Manchester United last season, and he lasted just 24 and 30 minutes at Stamford Bridge and Anfield respectively.

If Arsenal can't call upon one of their highest earners come crunch time then what's the point in keeping him on?

Silver lining is rocket of a left foot

Now it's not all doom and gloom in terms of Podolski's long-term future at Arsenal, but it's not far off.

Podolski is the kind of direct, clinical chance taker in the final third that the Gunners simply don't possess in any great numbers.

Arsenal have too many players that want to play the perfect final pass rather than apply the all-important finishing touch. There's no doubt the former Bayern Munich flop is in the latter category and has a goal record to match, with 28 in 74 Arsenal appearances.

Cazorla will get picked ahead of Podolski every time

It's the nature of his relationship with Wenger than renders those strong statistics largely redundant though. If Arsenal are afforded luxury of a fully fit squad then Santi Cazorla is preferred on the left flank, pure and simple.

Even on the rare occasions injuries afford Cazorla a switch and Podolski a start you can bet your bottom dollar Wenger will bring the German forward off.

Last season's FA Cup final was a prime example. Arsenal were 2-1 down against Hull City and chasing the game desperately, but despite Mesut Ozil also being well off the pace it was Podolski who was hooked after 61 minutes, replaced by Yaya Sanogo.

Truth be told if Olivier Giroud didn't go down with a broken left foot at Everton then Arsenal may well have decided it was time to part with Poldi before the transfer window slammed shut.

Every now and then a man who seems like a genuinely hilarious character in the dressing room will score with a thumping strike and get Arsenal fans in a lather about why he doesn't start, but ultimately it won't make the blindest bit of difference to Wenger's opinion of a player who has failed to meet expectations across the board.

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Lukas Podolski
Premier League

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