German defender Per Mertesacker spoke about compatriot Lukas Podolski and his goal in the previous game. Podolski has been sidelined at Arsenal this season, but came on as a substitute against Anderlecht and scored the winning goal with a nice strike.
The German forward is a skillful player, yet he has sidelined since the start of the season by Arsene Wenger. His only start came in the League Cup against Southampton, a game we went on to lose. Podolski did not impress in that game and lost the chance to secure a starting place in the lineup. Even after the injury to Ozil, Wenger still preferred to keep him on the bench.
Mertesacker, however, went on to call Podolski Arsenal’s best finisher:
It is a difficult period but he showed how vital he is with his clinical finishing. You can wake him up every second of the day and he will score with his left foot. That is the quality we need in the last five minutes when it is crunch time.
You can see that he’s our best finisher in every training session. Even with the side of his foot, he has power and that is what you need sometimes. We play a lot of football around the box but when it comes to finishing and shooting, sometimes we lack that.
There is an element of fatigue [for the German players] because we started when the season started and I have never experienced that. We had already won the Community Shield and we were still on holiday. That was something really strange for us to think about.
It was such a long season last year, without a winter break and with a World Cup. But that is nearly 100 days ago so I think it is time to raise the game and raise the mentality.
It was good for me to retire [from international football] so I can focus completely on Arsenal and not switch off and on every two or three weeks.
The fatigue seems to be affecting all the German players; Mertesacker has been very error prone this season and against both Anderlecht and Hull he seemed a shadow of his actual self. Podolski is struggling to get any game time at all, and Arsenal’s record transfer Mesut Ozil was also struggling to play up to his own high standards before suffering the knee injury.