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Sunday 5 May 2013

Loics Can Be Deceiving

"I like the Loic of that: QPR striker Remy wants to complete dream move to the Arsenal"

I'd definitely take the money and run for Podolski. Perhaps Lukas would come good in a team where he had some leaders around him, who could inspire him, but he lacks the self-motivation and the sort of appetite necessary to be a sufficiently consistent threat in this Arsenal side

He actually didn't do too badly playing up front at QPR and did at least stop me moaning every time Sczczny hoofed the ball forward because we did at least have someone up front capable of winning the ball in the air. But then Podolski is over 6ft tall and so winning aerial challenges is little more than one would expect from a tall muscular striker, but sadly I struggle to recall a single header that Lukas won in the air from a punt up field, falling to the feet of someone in red & white and virtually every ball that he won in the air seemed to result in the Hoops ending up in possession.

Some might say that the German front man needs more time to adapt to the peculiarities of Premiership football, but for my money the man just lacks the necessary hunger and mental drive to be an effective threat, week in, week out and at the Arsenal he's destined to produce the scant reward of a handful of goals each season, from those rare opportunities when he's presented with a chance to beast the ball into the back of the net.

Contrast Podolski's performance for the Gunners with those we've seen this season of Reus while playing for Dortmund and it soon becomes patently obvious why Lukas is playing second fiddle to the Dortmund player in the German national team. OK so perhaps a Champions League semifinal offers a little more motivation, but against Madrid, Reus looked so much more mobile and so much more hungry than Podolski.

Unfortunately complacency and insufficient passion and enthusiasm is not an affliction that's limited to the Gunners and sadly seems to increasingly plague the entire Premiership, the closer the players come to putting their feet up on a tropical sun lounger. Although while I was bemoaning the fact that the Gunners seem to have long since been more focused on their idyllic holidays than their football these past couple of months, as I was shooting the breeze with a couple of QPR pensioners, outside a cafe before this evening's game a Loftus Road, they soon set me straight and suggested that I count our blessings, as apparently their players did likewise, as long ago as last August!

But there are two specific disturbing idiosyncrasies that I've noticed about Podolski. When he's been called back to the bench to be introduced to a game as a sub, with some 15 or 20 minutes left on the clock (according to AW's immutable routine?), I've watched through my binoculars, while Lukas has seemingly spent an eternity phaffing with his boot laces, shin pad ties (tape), removing his tracksuit and I've noted the inordinate amount of time taken between him getting the nod from Bouldie and Lukas eventually appearing on the touchline ready to be introduced. When I contrast this, say for example, with Ian Wright and the rare occasion when WWW was left on the bench, Wrightie would be positively chomping at the bit and straining at the leash to get involved and might perhaps be more likely to strain a muscle, having been too anxious to enter the fray to have stretched his limbs sufficiently. Whereas with Podolski being limited to a brief cameo, in the dying throes of those games when he's come on as sub, his lack of urgency hardly screams of a player with sort of hunger & desire that suggest he's desperate to make his mark and influence the outcome.

Then on those rare occasions when AW has played Lukas in a central role, as in the past couple of games, there's been many an occasion when I, along with every other Gooner, has felt that he's been hard done by and that the ref has blindly ignored the fact that Lukas has been man-handled from behind by the opposing centre-back and that he should've been awarded a free-kick. Yet on many of these occasions, I find myself having to bite my tongue, as my first instinct has been to scream at him not to be such a complete and utter cissy and to use some of his obvious strength, to resist such muscular attentions and to stand up to the sort of physical challenge that is inevitable when performing as a centre-forward. 

He's going to have his shirt-pulled, have arms mauling him and to be generally put-off, in every conceivable manner 99 times out of a 100, when playing with his back to goal, with a centre-back right up his jacksey. Occasionally this will result in the award of a free-kick, but it's his duty to dish out just as much stick as he receives, so while the ref ignores most of these misdemeanours, occasionally he'll concede the odd free-kick.

Instead of which Podolski winds me up with his tendency to hit the deck, crumpling in a heap every single time he comes into contact with the opposing centre-back, as if he's somehow surprised by the assault. To compound my frustration, even though it's obvious that the ref hasn't taken a blind bit of notice, instead of jumping to his feet and perhaps battling back to retrieve the ball, Lukas tends to remain seated, perhaps beating the turf with both fists, like an indignant baby, bawling in his pram after having his dummy stolen!

In fact, sadly Podolski's performances to date have suggested few redeeming qualities to me. I really shouldn't get on his back, as he was no more culpable than anyone else for the thoroughly uninspiring dawdle around the park at Loftus Rd this evening. But he's certainly no Santi Cazorla, who can get away with his tendency to hide in plain sight for large periods of matches because you just know that if the diminutive Spaniard gets a yen to be more involved and take some responsibility in a game, instead of laying the ball off to a teammate at the earliest opportunity, Santi's more than capable of dropping his shoulder and caressing one into the top corner, with all the artistic finesse of a painter like Goya.

By contrast we were awarded a free-kick in the second half in the middle of the D, in front of Rangers penalty area, which appeared to be both a little too close and a little too straight for Cazorla to be able to curl the ball over the wall and get it up and down in time to have us whooping and a hollering in the School End as the ball slid under the crossbar in front of all of us Gooners. I watched through my binoculars to see what transpired between the triumvirate of Podolski, Walcott and Cazorla as they stood over this set-piece.

Perhaps due to his limited command of the language, Santi lingered in the background, just in case no one else in red & white was eager to step up. But Cazorla wasn't exactly pressing his case and his apparent reticence hardly suggested someone who was desperate to nail down a win bonus, 3 pts and potentially all that additional dosh that I assume they stand to earn by way of bonuses for qualification into the Champions Lg. Theo wasn't exactly grabbing for the ball either, but then apart from an instinctive snap shot in the penalty area mid way through the first half, resulting in a smart near post save by the QPR keeper, I got the distinct impression from Walcott (and the rest of our "highly motivated" team) that he'd done his job in the first 20 seconds of this game and beyond that, it was going to take a QPR equaliser to motivate him and his colleagues to pull their collective finger out.

As it became obvious that Podolski was the only player with any particular interest in assuming responsibility for this free-kick, I turned to my neighbour and prophetically predicted that he'd blast the ball straight into the defensive wall and sadly Lukas duly obliged. Not that I claim to have any special predictive powers, otherwise I would've mortgaged the flat last Tuesday and dashed around to the bookies, to bung the lot on a bet, taking the 1/4 odds that my brother-out-of-law in Dublin informed me were still being offered on an all German Champions League final. Mind you it didn't take a seer to take advantage of stick-on 25 per cent return on one's money!

But Podolski's not exactly capable of an artistic set piece and his technique relies solely on using sufficient brute force, to transfer the sort of power into his shot that might trouble the keeper, either due to the ball travelling too fast for him to react, or merely as a result of unpredictable flight of the modern day spheres when struck with sufficient strength.

Having tried to make my argument for biting off the hand that's foolish enough to offer us a profit on Podolski (who knows , perhaps Pod will prosper amidst the slower tempo game played in Turkey?), I'm really not sure it would be wise to reinvest the readies in Loic Remy. Then again, any such debate is probably specious because with the limits of our utterly soulless "sustainable business model" and with AW being so obsessed with VFM (value for money), if there's any other club looking to take advantage of Remy's relegation buy out clause, with Liverpool being most desperate for a goalscorer, having been deprived of their overly voracious front man for a quarter of the season, then the Gunners are always going to end up being outbid, whether this be the amount of the transfer fee, or the wages offered.

In truth I haven't seen enough of Remy to feel confident about passing judgement (then again, nor have the Rangers fans and they've been watching him every week!!) and perhaps the French striker has more to offer than he demonstrated against us this evening, playing amidst such a piss-poor QPR outfit. But based solely on what I've seen of Rangers in recent weeks, there's only one player in that woeful team capable of putting bums on seats (and there was a surprising number of absent arses for a London derby at such a pint-sized stadium) and that's Andros Townsend, who I presume will be returning to the mob at the wrong end of the Seven Sister Road come the end of the season.

The long-standing rumours about Jovetic also make me laugh. I've no idea how good the Montenegrin is, apart from his impressive goal tally stats in a mediocre Fiorentina side. The only time I've actually watched Jovetic play, was for his country against England and I seem to recall that his teammate, Vucinic was more impressive on the night. But surely it's an entirely moot point, to be debating the possible purchase of a player with as high a profile across the continent as Jovetic because even if he is the answer to our need for a 20 plus goals per season striker, we know full well that there is no one at our club who's capable of convincing Wenger to throw an additional £10 or £20 million and to simply stump up whatever it takes to outbid the opposition and make a statement of serious intent by securing the signature of a genuine marquee signing.

Sadly it seems to me, that unless there remains some remote tribe blessed with an abundance of superlative footballing talent, who continue to hold faith with the now long-forgotten illusion that there's some inexplicable allure to playing for Arsène Wenger and the Arsenal, that merits them earning far less, or accepting a considerably reduced sum in transfer remuneration than they might receive from a club with serious ambition, as opposed to an Arsenal where all decisions are strictly governed by their commercial viability, according to the business principles of small-minded, bean-counting economists with absolutely zero sense of football's soul, then I can't help but believe that we're destined for continued disappointment each summer!

Keep the faith


Anonymous said...


Gunnerman.. said...

Very harsh dude but I find it difficult to argue..who do u think can remedy our Team as a whole?

Bern said...

Harsh on Pod as he's no less motivated than seemingly almost every other player in the Prem right now but from the moment he arrived, I always felt that a player who was happy to go back to Cologne from Bayern, to be a relatively big fish in his comfortable local pond was always going to have to prove to me that he's got a winner's mentality and I'm afraid that's not been the case.

Oh and on watching MOTD, I've realised I forgot Theo's single other effort around 80 mins

AFAIC it was a shame Koscielny couldn't beat Green with our first 2nd half effort on 74 mins, as for my money he's just about the only player in our team who never fails to earn my respect with his consistent levels of commitment. As for the rest and the Premiership in general, I grow increasingly disillusioned by the levels of apathy.

While us punters chew our nails down to the quick and the pundits endlessly prognosticate on the remaining fixtures, it's barmy to think that it's the actual participants who appear least interested in the outcome.

And don't get me started (again) on Bakari. After so many years of consistent loyal service, I can't bear to find myself ending up giving Sagna stick for his lackadaisical efforts.

Wenger was jumping up & down on the touchline yesterday, like a kid having a tantrum, seemingly no less frustrated with our plodding failure to put this match to bed and I simply cannot fathom why AW wouldn't choose to play Jenkinson instead at RB.

I would much rather see Carl get found out for the odd naive error, than Sagna playing at 66 per cent, as at least Jenkinson's enthusiasm and hunger might provide us with some momentum and prevent such a stale looking display

Anonymous said...

The views of the classic sour spoiled Arsenal fan. I suggest you change your signature. Perhaps, "waaahhhhh!!" would fit the bill best.

Glasgow Gunner said...

To Anon
I say it's better to never remain quiet about mediocrity and stupidity. The grave shall provide sufficient time for silence