How will Lukas Podolski fit into Arsenal's team next season?

Mertesacker Podolski Giroud

The German forward faces an important season at the Emirates.

Arsene Wenger has moved quickly this summer to strengthen his Arsenal squad ahead of their Premier League title challenge next season.

The Gunners boss has added a world-class talent up front in Alexis Sanchez, who signed from Barcelona for £35million.

Wenger will be hoping that the extra competition for places in attack will spur his side on to win the league this season, but Sanchez's arrival could spell trouble for Lukas Podolski.

The German forward has been in and out of the team in his two seasons at the Emirates, largely playing on the left side of Arsenal's front-three.

Sanchez will likely occupy one of the spots on the wing when the season starts, potentially shifting to the left side with Theo Walcott on the right.

With Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Santi Cazorla and perhaps even Jack Wilshere also vying for a spot on the wing Podolski is likely to find it tough to break into the first team on a consistent basis.

Wenger's reluctance to start Podolski on the left flank at the start of last season suggested that he did not trust the German's ability to track back and support his full back. A look at Podolski's statistics from 2013/14 shows that his strengths are not exactly suited to playing as a wide midfielder, even in attack.

  TeamAppsMinsTouch per gamePass accuracyDribblesSuccessful dribblesTotal crossesCross accuracy (%)
Lukas Podolski ARS 20 1,172 40.70 88.83 13 6 23 13.04

While his passing accuracy is excellent, Podolski is not a particularly effective dribbler or crosser of the ball. He rarely whips the ball into the box or tries to beat his man to the byline, and with good reason as he does neither efficiently.

Podolski's greatest strength is clearly his finishing and, again, this is reflected in his statistics from last season.

  AppsMinsShotsShots on targetGoalsConversion rate (%)
Lukas Podolski 20 1,172 41 19 8 19.51

When Podolski really made a difference for Arsenal it was in picking the ball up in the box and shooting at goal. He hit the target with almost 50 per cent of his attempts and picked up eight goals in 20 games, a very respectable rate. He also ranked sixth in conversion rate among all players with over 40 shots, ahead of Luis Suarez, Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney.

Olivier Giroud and Yaya Sanogo are the only out-and-out strikers in the Arsenal squad, but Wenger has stated that he will not buy a frontman in this transfer window.

Perhaps he sees Podolski as a potential solution up front. With the passing ability of Arsenal's midfield and winger such as Sanchez and Walcott who can get behind defenders, Podolski could occupy a poacher role in the centre of attack. He would not be relied upon to hold up play, but would be in an ideal position to finish off chances with his keen eye for goal.

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A front-three of Sanchez, Podolski and Walcott would be extremely dynamic, full of pace and attacking threat. With all three of them having played as a central striker at some point in their career it would be a very fluid combination, with any of the trio able to take up any position.

This is certainly a make-or-break season for Podolski. He could see himself thrive in this new setup or left out in the cold completely. If Wenger is able to find a role for the German, however, he could bring the Gunners one step closer to winning their first title since 2004.

Will Lukas Podolski fit in the Arsenal side this season?

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