Good day to you.
The main story this morning is the one involving Lukas Podolski and a loan move to Inter Milan. He travelled to Italy last night, was pictured with an Inter scarf on (no doubt with a #intermilAHAn ready to go on his Instragram), and bar something going wrong with his medical later today he’ll join the Serie A club until the end of season, at least.
Reaction has been mixed, it’s fair to say. For the most part the German is a very popular guy, despite the fact he hasn’t played much this season. In fact, that’s probably boosting his popularity a little bit because he’s somewhat disassociated with much of our troubles this campaign.
It’s easy to forget that after one of his very public entreaties about wanting to play, he was handed a start in his coveted role as a striker in the Capital One Cup against Southampton and, frankly, stank the place out (he got a readers rating of 2.5 afterwards). Does the fact that he started just twice, in that game, and away at Galatasaray, tell its own story or was he criminally underused by Arsene Wenger?
Perhaps the truth lies somewhere in the middle. It’s long been difficult to fit Podolski into this team. He lacks the ability to play with his back goal, to hold the ball up and bring others into play, like a centre forward in this system is required to do. He seemed more naturally suited to the left hand side but persistent doubts over his work-rate and ability to contribute defensively meant he wasn’t trusted there either.
What could he do? Finish. Get him in sight of goal and that left foot was often lethal. It’s why I think it’s a little weird that we’re letting go of a player who has the ability to make a difference coming off the bench. We don’t have too many of those players in the squad really – certainly not at the moment with so many of them writhing in their beds as Florence Nightingale treats them for Grocer’s Itch and Nervous Prostration – and when you need a goal as often as we seem to, to let that option go is hard to understand.
But, as with every transfer, perhaps there’s more going on behind the scenes than we know about. Podolski has, on at least three occasions, used the Interlull to express his unhappiness at not playing and said that he’d be open to a January move if things didn’t change. It’s been quite obvious that bar a series of catastrophic injuries to the players Wenger feels are better suited to the team, he wasn’t going to play.
The story about him storming out of training might have been overplayed and shot down by the player himself, but if there’s a more media savvy bloke at the club right now I don’t know who it is. He knows exactly how to connect with fans, but do we think the ‘tight groin’ that kept him out of the Southampton game will really prevent him from playing in the first game he’s available for Inter? Maybe it will, maybe I’m being too cynical, but we know fine well experienced footballers know how to get what they want. He was on the brink of leaving last summer, then Giroud got injured and he was forced to stay. The departure, from his point of view, is long overdue.
And look, I don’t really have an issue with it. That is the way it goes. You can be sure that if we’ve got our beady eyes on a signing from another club the player in question, if he wants to come, will do whatever it takes to ensure the deal goes through. That’s how it works.
I also don’t blame him for wanting to leave. He’s not a stupid man and his desire to play elsewhere will be because he knows as well as anyone that he doesn’t fit into this team as well as other players. Welbeck or Alexis offer more overall on that left hand side. He’s not going to play ahead of either of them or Olivier Giroud as the centre-forward, so he knows that his chances are always going to be limited, therefore he wants to go. Not out of badness or ill-will, just because he wants to play. And who can argue with that?
However, at this moment in time, and as I said the other day, I don’t really see any benefit to us because of this. I find it hard to imagine we’ll be making any kind of attacking signing, so we’re banking on the return of Theo Walcott to bolster the forward line, because it’s also clear the manager doesn’t have much faith in Joel Campbell and there’s talk of Yaya Sanogo going out on loan too.
Overall, I like Podolski, he seems a good bloke, a funny guy who gurns for pictures and can thrill you from time to time with a thwack of his hammer-like left foot, but in the grand scheme of things I’m not too upset to see him go. Only at the timing of it, but we’ll see whether or not it really has an impact.
I can remember having similar reservations when we let Arshavin go on loan that time, and that proved, ultimately, to be the right decision.
In other news Per Mertesacker is the latest to bemoan our injury problems, saying:
For example Laurent, he has to play. He cannot train for two or three weeks because we have no players left. It’s always tough at the moment. Players come back but they have to play immediately.
What more can we say? And yes, injuries might not be a reason for Per’s poor form this season, but injuries mean we can’t take him out of the team to recover a bit, and the fatigue of playing every minute of every game surely isn’t helping either.
Sadly in this day and age a player is either great or shit. There’s no attempt to understand why somebody who was so good for us last season is playing poorly this time around. Ultimately this comes down on the manager for me, because he built a squad that was top heavy and neglected a crucial area. It’s absolutely fine to be critical of the guys who are struggling, but at least try and see why that’s happening rather than just write them off as shit.
As for tomorrow, Arsene said it’d be the 18 that figured against Southampton but admitted in his meeting with the press that Flamini and Ozil have a little chance of making it. He must be tempted. We’ll see how it goes, a full preview of that one tomorrow.
In the meantime, have a good Saturday.