Arsenal’s 2-0 victory over Hull ensured their progress to the fourth round of the FA Cup but there was clearly an attacking void. A void that a certain German could have filled expertly.
At the back, the Gunners never really looked troubled and the midfield looked dangerous. Through the absence of Olivier Giroud and Danny Welbeck though, they lacked a cutting edge.
Theo Walcott had numerous chances when clean through on goal and failed to convert. Joel Campbell was also lively and clearly has a point to prove but a simple lack of finishing ability is holding him back.
When on the pitch, the 29-year-old Lukas Podolski was calm and decisive whenever a chance came his way. A distinct memory is his clinical strike against Liverpool in last season’s FA Cup.
His goal, when the score stood at 1-0, calmed nerves around the Emirates Stadium and helped Arsenal through. How they would have loved another goal of sorts against the Tigers on Sunday.
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The German’s ability to simply put a foot through the ball also made him stand out from his teammates. Surely Arsene Wenger must realise that his intricate passing game must have an end product. In Podolski, he had this and may rue letting him go.
Over-reliant on Sanchez
In spite of a tricky game, Arsenal did have one stand out performer; Alexis Sanchez. Once again the attitude, work rate and all round skill of the Chilean was the difference. T
he fact of the matter though is that Arsenal cannot keep relying on their £35 million star alone. In the absence of Giroud and Welbeck on Sunday, surely the combination of Sanchez’s skill and Podolski’s finishing would have been devastating to any opposition.
For reasons that only he knows, Wenger never entertained this idea.
Not for the first time in recent seasons, Wenger has been dealt a crippling injury list - as eight first team players were unavailable entering the New Year. For this reason alone, Podolski is another option.
With Sanchez on his own up front, Walcott and Campbell were the other two attacking wide players against Hull. Even when fit, finishing was never Walcott’s best trait while Campbell still has a long way to go to prove himself at this level.
A top professional
Regardless of his finishing abilities, Podolski gained many admirers at Arsenal. His intrepid performances always showed that he would give his all for the team.
The fans clearly saw this and his love for Arsenal even when he was sat on the substitute’s bench. They have always warmed to the former Bayern Munich man. Unfortunately Wenger clearly didn’t.
The only saving grace is that Podolski’s move is only a loan until the end of the season. After this, the Arsenal manager should at least consider bringing him back.
Otherwise the fans chants of “Lukas Podolski, he scores when he wants” may ring in the Frenchman’s ears for a long time to come.