Whether Lukas Podolski was a failure or whether Wenger failed Podolski has taken on elements of a religious debate among Gooners. In the interest of objectivity I will keep the comments and analysis to a minimum and instead simply present four charts.
The first is a chart of Podolski’s national team stats since 2007:
SS/CF and LW indicate the position Podolski was playing as listed by transfermarkt.com. Additionally, these are “transfermarkt assists” meaning that penalties won and scored count as an assist.
As you can see, Podolski was converted from a central player to a wing player in 2009. He still produced goals from the wing. You can also see that Podolski’s minutes/appearance were on decline after a career high 84 in 09/10, though that took a massive dive when he joined Arsenal (in red).
As Podolski’s minutes declined, his production actually got more efficient. Crazy efficient.
Now here is a graphic of Podolski’s total club minutes per season.
As you can see, Arsenal managed Podolski’s total overall minutes in his first season at Arsenal and the German played just 1/2 a match less overall (considering his Champions League and other apps) than he had in his 18 goals season at Köln. It wasn’t until last season, when Arsenal bought Özil and moved Cazorla to the wing that Podolski’s overall numbers took a hit.
But as you can see from this graphic, his minutes/goal or assist production didn’t take a dip.
Podolski had one terrible season since 2006 (09/10) where he scored or assisted every 292 minutes but other than that blip he’s been remarkably consistent regardless of the position he’s been asked to play, the club he’s played for, the League he played in, or the amount of minutes he got playing.
As you can see, Podolski’s numbers never really dropped despite the drop in playing time for club and country. If anything, he became more efficient as his time on the pitch dropped.
And finally, Podolski was a “clinical finisher” as defined by that video game. But the stats also bear out a player who, once he got a shot on target, finished better than the best:
The only odd thing there is the number of shots. Sanchez shoots a lot like van Persie and Suarez (top goal scorers) in terms of finishing % and shots on goal % and also gets a large number of shots off. Podolski played 2000 League minutes that season and only managed 54 shots, Alexis has only played 1589 minutes and already has 60 shots. If Sanchez can keep going he looks to top 120 shots and 20 goals easily.