Arsenal have got one more game to go without the big front man Olivier Giroud. The French international will be available to play in the last game of the season against Newcastle United at St. James’ Park, or whatever the hell it is called these days. It is as inevitable as death and taxes that Giroud will come straight back into the starting line up, because we have seen how much the Gunners have become set up to playing off him.
The final game without the Frenchman is against Wigan at the Emirates and it is a massive game for us. Arsenal simply have to win, and that means scoring goals. Arsene Wenger decided to go with Lukas Podolski in place of Giroud, and it is safe to say the the German international has not been spectacular down the middle. It looks like Wenger is going to stick with him, though, and has explained his thinking.
“I believe it is his best position maybe, because on the flanks he needs to work so hard and he’s more a finisher than anyone else in the team,” said Wenger. “Him and Theo are two finishers.
“I am convinced that through the middle he can have a great goalscoring record.”
The line about working hard on the flanks is a bit odd, but does support the theory that Podolski is not fully fit. Although Wenger has denied it, tweets from Podolski and media reports suggest the the German has got an ankle problem that may or may not need surgery in the summer. This would explain a lot.
Wenger also seems to be playing the two players off against each other. It has certainly fired Theo Walcott into action with well taken goals in the last two games. Maybe by suggesting that Podolski is the better finisher is intended to spur Walcott on, just as he was playing out of his skin during the contract negotiations.
Now, most Gooners will say that he shouldn’t need to be spurred (sorry) on, but if it works then I have no problem with it. Wenger has also praised the maturity and finishing of the England international, who has now done what a lot of Arsenal fans thought he never would, get 20 goals in a season.
“You certainly remember him when he arrived,” Wenger said. “In front of goal, the ball could go anywhere. Now you see every time he hits the target. He forces the keeper into a save. That’s why his numbers are so much better.
“I use him on the flank because I try to put a player in the middle who can score goals, and having another one on the flank who can score goals gives you a little bit of security. We finished with him in the middle.”
With Cazorla on the left, Arsenal have 46 goals this season from the front three, so you can see why Wenger wants Podolski in the middle, even if he isn’t fully fit. To be honest, we don’t really care who scores the goals, as long as someone gets a winner against Wigan.