Arsene Wenger admits that Lukas Podolski has been frustrated by his lack of game time but insists the German international has an important role to play as the fixtures pile up ahead of Christmas.
The 29-year-old came off the bench to grab a dramatic stoppage-time winner against Anderlecht last night and the boss underlined that his strike wasn’t a coincidence but a demonstration of the player’s qualities.
“He is frustrated and I understand that of course, but he is important and he showed that,” Wenger told press after the game. “He will also be important in the coming months.
“It took him a while to get back to a good physical level [after the World Cup] and now he is nearly there.
“He was never close to leaving. He has 115 caps for Germany. This goal is not a coincidence, that shows you his quality.
“I think he is a guy you want to have the ball in the box. His shot is fantastic, his accuracy is great and he has very short back lift. He nearly scored before and I know when he comes on he can score.”
Obviously delighted with his first goal of the season, and very timely it was too given the abject nature of Arsenal’s performance in Brussels, Podolski stressed that he’ll always back himself to score, especially if the ball falls on his favoured left foot.
“Sometimes you have to be a little bit lucky and today was the day. When the ball is on my left foot I score 99 per cent of the time. It was a good moment for me and the fans because they support me all of the time.”
Eager to stress that it was better to hop home on the Eurostar with a good result, rather than a decent performance, he reflected:
“It was a dramatic game for the fans and for us as well but at the end we have the three points.
“If we lost today it would have been difficult. It was important that we won and went back to London with the three points.
“I hope [we can gain momentum]. We had 25 shots on target against Hull City and we drew. Today was not the best game but it’s important that at the end you get the points and we have the points.
“We still have three games left and nothing is certain yet. We have an important game against Anderlecht at home and if we win that then I think we can go through.”