Punt of the Week – Gameweek 4 – Lukas Podolski

After the recent performance of a certain Robin van Persie at St. Marys, it would have been an easy route to pick the Dutchman. The likes of Hazard, Michu and Cazorla have all caught the eye in recent weeks but anyone could pick those names out of the hat destined for big points.

After the departure of RVP to rivals Man United, there was a gigantic hole left in Arsenal’s attacking line and Wenger has turned to the experienced German alongside the French top goalscorer from last season, Olivier Giroud, to fire Arsenal to glory and finally win some silverware.

The Potential

This week I’ve turned to Lukas Josef Podolski as my Punt of the Week. Priced at the time of writing at 8.4m, he certainly represents good value as a second or maybe third striker if you think a top heavy team is the way to go. Nearly 85,000 managers have sold the forward to earn his price drop but I’m a believer in form is temporary, class is permanent.

The reason for Podolski’s mass exodus was Arsenal’s first two games. They drew blanks for Podolski and Arsenal as Lukas was restricted to just 63 minutes at home against Sunderland and slightly more away at Stoke (71). It’s the game at Anfield though where Podolski showed his class, where in 81 minutes he scored a goal, grabbed an assist and then claimed all three bonus points in a match where he and the more expensive Santi Cazorla ran liverpool ragged. This gradual increase of gametime must surely be down to Wenger easing him back in after a hectic summer in Podolski’s homeland of Poland. (He has dual citizenship.)

If this trend continues then he should be assured a full 90 minutes against a Southampton side at home, who despite playing very well, have leaked 8 goals in just 3 Premer League games. One factor for his selection is he will be up against an inexperienced right-back in Nathaniel Clyne. Despite Clyne being a promising full-back, his desire to get forward and Podolski’s guile will surely see the experienced German win the head-to-head battle.

Looking forward as Podolski adapts to the rigours of Premier League football and gels with his team mates, it is a certainty he will shine through, maybe not to the heights of RVP last season, but coming off the Arsenal left, I would expect him to get close to the 14 and 18 goals he has scored in the last two seasons respectively for FC Koln. At 27 years of age (yes I thought he was older too!), he should surely be reaching the pinnacle of his form just in time for this move to English football, and Arsenal and us Fantasy Managers should surely reap the rewards!

The Risk

Despite the obvious victory at Anfield, the goals have been hard to come by for the North London side. After this weekend’s home clash against the Saints, Arsenal face a nasty trip to the Etihad after the Champions League away tie at Montpellier, then an early home clash with Chelsea on the following Saturday. A trip to Upton park follows and is surely not on the top list of fixtures wanted, as at Bolton Sam Allardyce managed many a scalp against the perennial pushovers of recent seasons. Steve Bould’s defence will have to hold strong as the likes of Lambert and Carroll will fancy testing their metal against this new resilient Arsenal defence.

Should the Saints spoil the party, the next three fixtures are far from easy fixtures and so we could yet could find Arsenal in mid-table before the away trip to Carrow Road in Gameweek 8.

With Arsenal’s decision to trial a 4-3-3 system this year, with Podolski on the left of a 3, I do wonder whether rotation will come in to play. With Oxlade-Chamberlain, Arshavin and the likes all vying for a starting place, Podolski will have to continue to influence the Arsenal attack as he has thus far.

The Final Word

On the face of it, an Arsenal striker valued at 8.4m in a team that will score a lot of goals, will probably finish in the top 4, and is a guaranteed starter, will definitely find himself in a lot more teams than the 13.9% ownership he currently has. A lot will depend on Olivier Giroud finding the onion bag and the German’s experience could yet see him move into the central position of a front 3 should Giroud continue to disappoint. Another point to note is that he is a German, and he is Arsenal’s penalty taker, so he won’t miss many!