Hello everyone, hope to find you well. A Saturday to just enjoy the football action before The Arsenal takes on reigning league champions, Manchester City, at the Eithad Stadium. Lots to talk about but best to just pick on two particular players to focus on. One new signing as well as one like a new signing.
First up, Lukas Podolski. I did talk about Podolski previously, here and here. I think both times, I credited the attributes he could bring to the team but not entirely sure that he would be a massive success with us. It is still remarkably early in the season to make a concise judgement on how well he will contribute to our season but at the moment, he’s clearly sent me a lorry of humble pie. One, which I’ll gladly eat when it means the team is doing well.
Podolski has clearly used his wealth of domestic and international experience to good use. Assimilating to our style of player almost immediately and becoming part of the backbone of our progress this season. With 3 goals and an assist or two, he has already made a quantitative impact to our season thus far. Arsene Wenger himself noticing the difference between this Podolski and the one that joined Bayern Munich early in his career.
Looking back on some of the interviews and especially the twitter takeover that the club did on Thursday, it is quite clear that Podolski is well received by the rest of the squad. His cheerful demeanour helps to build better rapport with his new team mates and thus making us a healthier squad for it. It is easy for someone with 100 international caps for Germany to come in and be all arrogant and demanding but that hasn’t been the case with him.
There’s a certain humbleness and hard-working side of Podolski which us fans can certainly appreciate. Recognising the results that we have achieved so far without the thought that our work is done, the German is the epitome of the type of character we need in our squad. The kind that takes each game as it goes and continues to work hard in training as well as give 100% effort in every single game. Professionalism at it’s best. Podolski has made the left attacking role his own and if he continues in the same vein, there will be very very kind words to be said of him come the end of the season.
The term like a new signing is another one which came off the shelf of the Wenger’s footballing terminologies. It is also one which has been used to criticise him as the players he means are not exactly new signings, just ones that we have not be able to use for a period of time and when they come back into the squad, it looks like a new player. The same definition can be applied to Jack Wilshere whom we all had full admiration of, after his first full season with us in 2010/11. Sadly, injury kept him out for the entirety of last season but now he’s back.
Well, not fully back as in available for selection for the City game but back nonetheless. When the news filtered out that Wilshere underwent his first full training with the first team earlier this week, it was the best piece of news we’ve had since the start of the season. It’s easy to forget the talent he has and just what a special player he is, after not seeing him in action for well over a year now. There were also fears that he might never make it back after all. Thanksfully he has and his return adds to the growing list players on the trail of comeback that includes Emmanuel Frimpong, Tomas Rosicky and Bacary Sagna.
Here’s a player who, at his peak, is probably the best player in the squad. One who is technically gifted and positionally aware matching with his desire to win football matches. A home-grown special that we all like to see in the team that we support. He’s Mikel Arteta, Abou Diaby and Santi Cazorla, all rolled into one. Lest we forget, that’s our entire midfield triumvirate. Wilshere has got the legs and the discipline to sit in front of the defence but is equally adept with his dribbling abilities and playmaking skills.
Yet, a slight question mark still persist over whether he is capable of reproducing what he showed two seasons ago. The very fact that he stood toe to toe with the likes of Xavi, Andreas Iniesta and Lionel Messi, and not look out of place is nothing to look lightly upon. He showed in those 2 games against Barcelona what he had been doing for us that season. Wilshere will need time and games to get back into shape and match sharpness. When he do, it will be about whether he has that psychological barrier to break through. Whether he has a mental block that came with the long term absence that he and us had to endure.
If and when Wilshere is fit and ready to start games and adding that to the return of Rosicky, we’ll have a lot of options in midfield. Options that generates a lot of excitement among us fans because of the quality and potential that it has. Enough to make us the team with the best squad of midfielders, anywhere in the Premier League.
Enough to make a lot of teams envy us.