Lukas Podolski's big problem at Arsenal

Lukas Podolski Germany

Lukas Podolski was signed as a striker, so why does Arsene Wenger persist on playing him as a winger?

Like Thomas Vermaelen has been shifted to left-back on occasion 'for the good of the team', new signing Lukas Podolski's versatility has seen him moved from a preferred central role out wide.

The difference with Podolski is his sojourn on the flanks has become a permanent fix, regardless of team selection or opposition.

In his 20 starts for Arsenal this season in all competitions, 18 have come from the left wing position.

It is not entirely new, he has played there in World Cup's and European Championship's for Germany, but just last month he told Sky Sports: "I’d rather play centrally up front, on the left, I have to do a lot of defensive work, constantly running up and down. But I am not a classical winger."

As the dust settles on Arsenal's shock defeat to Bradford City, questions need to be asked about Arsene Wenger's team selection - Not in the players picked, but the way they were lined up.

With Olivier Giroud injured, and Theo Walcott also, Arsenal needed a striker. So the manager had two options from the 11 players he picked - Play German international striker Lukas Podolski up front - In the position he was signed to play in - Or Gervinho, whose natural position is not a striker, but an attacking midfielder, suited to playing wide.

The decision backfired, with Podolski ineffective on the wing, and Gervinho listless up front, missing an open goal sitter at the end of the first half.

It certainly begs questions as to just why Wenger is so reluctant to play a striker he paid £11 million for in the position he wants to play in.

It is one thing playing him out wide to accommodate Olivier Giroud, who is not as adaptable, allowing Arsenal to continue their preferred formation. But when Podolski is sacrificed to play Gervinho in a role he does not naturally excel in, something just doesn't seem right.

How long will it be before Podolski starts repeating his frustration?

With Arsenal set to sign another striker in January, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is one name strongly linked, competition for a striking place will increase, and Podolski is more likely to face an extended spell out wide.

That is why last night was such a missed opportunity with Giroud out injured. The German had a chance to stake a claim for his preferred position, but with the Frenchman due back as soon as the next fixture, it could be back to business as usual and Podolski out wide against Reading next Monday. Again.

Does Podolski deserve more starts in the centre?

image: © sdhansay

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