Against Bayern Munich we saw the Podolski of old, the Podolski we all wanted to see again after such a strong start to his Arsenal career. Podolski was fired up, tireless and dangerous, things that have been missing from his game recently and have seen him hardly kick a ball. Podolski also worked very hard and made sure Vermaelen had help against the double threat of Robben & Lahm, he also had a good dual against Javi Martinez but it seems as though Javi took lessons from Robben because he was on the floor holding his face after Podolski brushed his cheek.
Podolski gives us something that we badly lack without Walcott and that is end product. They both can produce something out of nothing even on bad days, on good days they can win a game almost single handedly. We need to play Podolski as much as we can from now in my opinion, especially now with Ozil’s injury & Ramsey’s setback. He needs to help take the pressure off of Oxlade-Chamberlain by offering an alternative goal threat and balancing the team. He is also one of our only players who will shoot on sight rather than pass, a key element in any game because even Barcelona can’t walk the ball into the net every time. An attacking 3 of Podolski – Cazorla/Rosicky – Oxlade-Chamberlain behind Giroud/Sanogo is our best hope of winning most games in my opinion.
While Oxlade-Chamberlain has been outstanding recently, goal scoring is not his strongest point and with massive games approaching a more experienced and natural goal scorer will be needed. This is where Podolski comes in because even if he is losing a battle with Ivanovic for example, he will get at least 1 or 2 chances and can easily take them which is vital in big games. Too many times in the past we have dominated games and not been clinical, we now have the ability to be clinical even in games were we are under big pressure. Even though he plays there with England, Oxlade-Chamberlain isn’t experienced at Wembley or in Cup Semi Finals/Finals so we cannot just play him as our only natural winger when those games come around. He is only 20 and could easily be taken over by nerves, whereas Podolski is used to Cup Semi Finals & Finals (mainly with Germany it must be said). Playing both would lift a bit of pressure off of Oxlade-Chamberlain because he would not be our only direct route to goal.
I was originally very unhappy with the partnership, but now that they’ve clicked it seems Arteta-Flamini will give us the best platform to try and end our trophy drought in 2 ways. Firstly, it provides us with much needed extra defensive stability and simplicity that is vital in Cup games and secondly it provides freedom to our attacking players. This will be vital in Podolski’s role in the FA Cup because the extra protection allows him more freedom and it also allows him to save some energy by having to defend less, which he can then use to spring quick counters and run at players.
Assuming we manage to get to the final, which will be extremely difficult even if we are favourites, Podolski may also provide a match turning option from the bench. While I think he should play, it may be more wise to opt for a controlling player like Cazorla on the left rather than an all out attacker who could become isolated without the ball. With some much needed luck, Ramsey, Ozil & Wilshere will all be full fit & firing by the time the final is played should we get there. Whether Podolski starts or not, he is easily our best finisher and could win us the match if he starts or from the bench. With the injured players returning, he will want to make a lasting impression and justify his selection by playing out of his skin and scoring when he plays. Podolski is a winner and I really feel confident about our chances in the FA Cup with him playing.