Saturday, April 13, 2024

Podolski Arsenal Stats: By the Numbers

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 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:

finisherThe 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.

Argue away…


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Impressive stats. Can someone remind me why did we let him go?


Because he’s lazy-ish. He’s the kind of player that will wait for the ball and work hard when he’s got it, but not the kind of player that will run his socks off until the team regains possession.


And that really sums up the religiousness of the debate, with enough stats to back up each side. Maybe the clue is in Gilles Grimandi’s comments about players being well aware of the phenomenon and consciously window-dressing their stats. With Poldi’s self awareness, I don’t see it as too much of a stretch to imagine that he is quite willing to play completely to his strengths and refuse to improve on any of his weaknesses. It probably helps that his strength (finishing) is seen as a key determinant of ‘value’ (wages and transfer value wise).

Master Bates

Because he’s a ‘clinical finisher’ , which sounds like a compliment but really isn’t.

You’d never describe Alexis that way because he other dimensions like dribbling,tackling,marking etc

Podolski always lurks waiting for that shot not doing much of the actual footballing hence very few touches.


Well that is the question – do you want a ‘clinical finisher’ who doesn’t do the tracking, marking etc but gets you 1 goal every 2 games? OR a forward player with good ‘work rate’ but only gets you 1 goal every 4 games? (Poldi v Welbeck).

Wenger has made his decision. I’m just glad that he wasn’t our manager in the early 90s, otherwise he would have sent the great Ian Wright packing for ‘only’ scoring goals and not tracking back.


we would have know wrighty as Ian Wright instead of Ian Wright Wright Wright 🙂


Except we’ve tried Podolski as a striker multiple times and he hasn’t done well at all.

I still remember how bad he was in the game against Cardiff that we actually had to bring on Bendtner to try and salvage that game (which he did by scoring).

As a striker if you’re not that defensively efficient it’s fine. But when you’re playing as a winger, the lack of tracking back means your defender will have to deal with 2 players and that quite simply isn’t good for the team.


What a terrible argument. You picj up on one game and pass a judgment? This despite having the overall stats mentioned in the same article. Its like saying Alexis is shit coz he was poor against Stoke and couldnt win us the game. If we start judging players on individual games we will lose all semblance of reasoning. Poldi was terribly handled by Arsene and we will never know why. Right from not allowing him to play more than 60 mins even when he was playing very well in his first season to not giving him any game time this… Read more »


udy, it wasn’t one game though. It was almost every single one. The exceptions are the rare performances at striker when he wasn’t totally awful not the ones when he was


Another hilarious Wenger decision. If we had been playing excellent this season, winning games and generally outscoring folk then I could understand Podolski not getting any game time but when we’re having potentially our worst season under Arsene Wenger with the only Alexis consistently scoring it just seems incredulous to believe that we’ve let him go. Wenger signed him from Köln with scouting reports stating that he is exactly what some have complained about or in some cases praised him for; a traditional 90’s striker that doesn’t track back but will score goals bordering on the sublime. Importantly, he was… Read more »


Maybe football has changed and managers need a lot more from their forwards, because if you don’t run in the modern game, your team will be a man short.


And it looks like AW wants to play without any traditional CFs, who do exactly what Podolski does, wait, conserve energy for the right moment. Did Shearer ever track back? AW wants to play 3 attacking midfielders in a spearhead who fulfil defensive as well as attacking duties. I don’t think its ever really worked for us, particularly at AML. Every player who has tried there has failed.

Si in Galway

My musing recently has been: how much defensive work does Welbeck have to do while not scoring to be as useful to the team as Poldi doing less defensive work but scoring regularly? I can understand that Poldi’s seen as something of a luxury player owing to his defensive contribution, maybe especially while our defense is so dire, however one could (and I do) argue that a defender would prefer to be a goal up and have to defend a little more, than on nil-nil and defend a little less. I don’t know why Wenger hasn’t tried e.g. 45 mins… Read more »


except that Podolski would never have averaged 1 goal in two games over a season. not even close. and how many goals we concede due to his lack of supporting the team?

Santi Claws

Because he’s a limited player, and the way our attack is set up doesn’t cater to limited players well. It’s too fluid. Walcott is also limited but his main asset is speed, which is much more difficult to counter than being a clinical finisher. For a weak team which doesn’t create many chances and has to be efficient in taking the chances that are presented (ie Koln) he’d be the dog’s bollocks. But he doesnt have enough dimensions to contribute to our attack the way Wenger wants it to function.


Walcott is also more versatile than Podolski, and also a very good finisher

obvious stater

Really? Can we have some stats to back that up including the non-shots Theo doesn’t take due to stumbling of leaving the ball behind? I don’t have any stats to hand but I’d say Theo’s stats don’t compare to Podolskis.


Poldi is the kind of striker who’ll work in a 4-4-2 in the 90s.


the same reason his previous manager was happy to get rid of him.

“I am happy that Podolski has left Cologne,” Vogts said. “He had too many friends in the city. He got praised as a great runner if he ever got back to defend three times in a game.

“He got an easy ride and he believed his own publicity.”


Stats about goals only tell one story. Perhaps he will work in another system, but he could not work in a system that demands wingers (or left sided forward players) defend as well as attack.


The lack of shots actually isn’t that odd, as we lacked a bit of creativity that season. I seem to recall Cazorla being our only creative player in form. Podolski never really got to play a lot with Ozil or Ramsey (after his form went through the roof).

In fact, the only creative player beyond Cazorla around Podolski was probably Giroud at the time, and the two had a pretty good partnership.

At any rate, 55% conversion rate is staggering. I knew it was high, but that’s just amazing.


Can we move the fuck on from this story or non story


You could have done that by not leaving a comment …


Or reading it. The title of the article corresponds very well with the actual content.


Or we could all leave positive comments


It does need to be addressed though, Hank. It IS news. Just because you don’t want to think about it doesn’t mean it doesn’t need contemplating, ruminating and ….

Perry S.

all I’m waiting for is to see how he fares at inter where he’ll get his fair share of match time, and we can then give a fair assessment if this was the right move or not. imo it was.

Dick Swiveller

Not sure we really can. Gervinho has been productive at Roma, yet there is no doubt in my mind that it was the right decision to get rid of him.


Fair’s fair.

supa dupa

Crazy numbers, just imagine if Poldi took the same amounts of shots as Suarez. 181 shots by 20% would equal to 37 (36.2) goals that season and most likely being the record in the PL.

On his SoG% if that was like RVP’s in the 12/13 season his SoG would be 25.38. With the amount of Suarez shots in that season, the total would become 85.07, multiplying that by Poldi’s Goals/SoG% equals 47(46.7885).

In shorter words, this is efficiency at its highest.

Cliff Bastin

Or maybe he only takes shots that he knows will at least trouble the keeper.

Black Hei

I agree with Cliff here, and that is not a criticism of Podolski.

In fact, I will say this is one of his plus points. Sure he does not shoot a lot, but he is not stupid to waste possession needlessly.

If he does not get a shot, he wouldn’t pull the trigger.

BTW, he has a mean cross too.

Si in Galway

this has been Santi’s problem for much of this season, IMO – shooting directly into legs.


Scratching my head. Why is he in Milan? Yep still scratching my head….

Craig Pires

Because he’s gone on loan to inter…..


Great shooting efficency but was not able to get himself in to positions to have a shot often enough. He just didn’t seem to have the pace to get in to these positions in the Premier League.

George the Gooner



Personally, I think we are crazy to let him go. Never will understand why he didn’t get more game time, especially this season. Honestly think he would have florished given more actually playing time, & will add that he would have suited the Southampton game & in my opinion made the difference. Today against Hull he might also have done well & could have given Alexis a well earned break.

Some very questionable decisions being made by the gaffer this year all round…hoping that at some stage it will start to make sense.


Curious question: Why hasn’t the club or Wenger yet make a statement on Poldi’s transfer??


Wenger did make a statement a few days ago, you must missed it. He said Inter were not serious and that Podolski was going nowhere.


And then tracking back by saying Poldi had to go to Inter anyway.


Very selective memory there, Spinner. As has been well reported:
1. Milan made a derisory offer.
2. Wenger said Milan aren’t serious.
3. Milan made a much better offer.
4. Wenger accepted it and announced it.
We all get that you want him gone, but don’t go lying by omission to bolster your case.


Thanks for your reply Arsepedant, sharing of opinions between fellow Arsenal supporters enriches this comments section which blogs has kindly provided us.
But I must pick you up on what was reported between points 2 and 3 of your comment. AW was asked if Poldi would be staying at Arsenal, his response was ‘I hope so.’ Well if he really hoped so then why didn’t he simply reject Inter’s offer and keep him.
We all get that you blindly support him, but don’t go lying by omission to bolster your case.


god forbid he should play hardball in negations. but yes, he should have announced his desperation to get rid of him and just hoped interested clubs made decent offers anyway, just to be nice.


He never got more games because Prof wanted to frustrate him into leaving or asking to leave, that way he says well he wanted out ini

Gudang Bedil

Outgoing transfer sure dealt very fast.


How Wenger couldn’t somehow find a way to fit this guy into our team will always continue to baffle me.
When you have someone as clinical as poldi, you try to use him well.


Agreed Trez. A lot of other things baffle me about Wenger at the moment – starting the season with only 6 defenders, Sanogo project, getting mugged again by Stoke City away, injury situation, not being able to beat Cuntinho ever, not taking Cesc back, no plan B, declaring 4th place a trophy…..

Arsene is a legend, there’s no disputing that, but there comes a time when there is no improvement to the perennial problems that you have to let someone else have the chance to take the club forward.

Hank Scorpio

To call Poldi lazy is well plain lazy in the context of the goals we have shipped this season by being caught on the break….which involves players not tracking back…..and all with Poldi sitting on the bench. Arsene not using him more is criminal. Firstly to give Alexis a rest & secondly to mix things up in games that we struggled to break teams down. He’s the kind of effective player that only takes a moment to break open a game & cuts through our sometimes laboured build up play. He may not be as all round ‘good’ as some… Read more »

Black Hei

Podolski has crazy efficiency…..if he manages to get a shot away.

But since he does not have the body strength to hold up the ball, the pace to run with it, the skill to dribble with it and the acceleration to pull away from defenders……he doesn’t get the chance to shoot very often.

That sounds about right from what has been observed.

Perry S.

I’m going to save this comment re: poldi transfer. it’s the most spot on explanation about him that I’ve seen yet.

obvious stater

Let’s think about this…

Who cares how many shots he has if he scores most of them?

Seems some will go to any length to justify some of Wenger’s odd behaviours.

Next you’ll be telling me Cygan was good but didn’t fit into the style of play or something

Black Hei

Instead of thinking, try watching some matches and you will get it.

obvious stater

I would guess that I’ve been to more than you.


2/2 is 100% efficiency goals/shots but it aint gonna win you the league.

obvious stater

It will if he takes 2 shots a game, he will bag 38 league goals a season. Pretty likely to top the league if one player is scoring 38 goals.

Black Hei

The correct stat to use is Goals/Shot which is 20%, not 100%.

So if he takes 2 shots a game, he will still bag 15goals IF he starts every game throughout the season.

Which, btw, is the incorrect scenario. Actually Podolski takes less than 2 shots a game on average. In 2012/2013 he played 33 games and took 54 shots in total which is less than 2 a game.


That’s pretty much exactly what I was going to say.

And the lack of speed meant he couldn’t catch defenders by surprise when closing them down.

A bit of a YouTube player in my opinion – his goal videos must look amazing. Everything else is a bit….. meh.


I remember several goals he got when subbed in. I also remember being consistently unimpressed on the few occasions he started. If letting him go frees up any money to spend on a defensive MF or defender, I’m all for it

Black Hei

I would like to make another point about Podolski with regards to tracking back. My impression is that he actually does track back but is quite poor in that defending bit. Which is actually ok IMO, since he isn’t a defender. He just need to cover the defensive space and put in a shift, which I think he does. That whole talk about Podolski not being involved in games is less to do with work rate and more to do with skill sets. Podolski does not have the requisites of a midfielder and thus he finds it hard to get… Read more »

Si in Galway

The shame for me is that given all those points, Wenger wasn’t using him as an impact sub…he just wasn’t using him at all.


What everyone is forgetting is the leadership and comraderie he provided in the dressing room. he was always taking pictures laughing and proud to be a Arsenal player. He will be missed in the dressing room by the players and Wenger is making a huge mistake by letting him go.

Perry S.

lol I’m sure the players will be fine picking up their paycheck for a pretty big, classy club like arsenal. I can post all over the internetz and keep spirits up, will you pay me 100K a week to do so, please? where do I sign up?

Diaby`s Glassware

accurate with the hardest shot i`ve ever known…hope he`s gonna be back soonest #poldi#aha#afc

Black Hei

Not only is the shot hard, it has little back lift. In other words, he does not need to make a big swing to generate power.
Sigh, if only his movement off the ball as a CF is any better. He can actually compensate his lack of physicality and speed with clever movement.
His off the ball movement while out wide is actually quite good so it is disappointing that he is so sterile when through the middle.


What is there to argue, the article compares him to the best favourably?

Isn’t the job of the manager is to get the best of his squad of players, sounds to me that by not getting the best out of Podolski and a number of others including Ozil, the manager who always punched above the weight of his team on paper has probably for the first time punching below?


one question ? poldi was voted best young player of the 2006 world cup, so in footballing terms top managers know about what he can bring or not in a squad from 2006 onwards., so why the fuck did arsene bought him in the first place?poldi need to have a striking partner who complete him and work hard and do the ‘compulsary trackin back that everybody want from strikers’.
arsene though he will turn him into a number 9 like he did with TH , RVP . He failed. stats are for poldi’s case, bad management from arsene.big time.


it raises the question of what type of football are we trying to play? don’t go buy clinical finisher and ask them to be what they are not. serve them , they will score as poldi stats suggests. what pisses me is the same game plan years after years, tricky play and passing football’ à la barcelone ‘ but the thing is the BPL is not la liga and we do not have Xavi, Iniesta and Messi in our ranks. and they are better team suited for that style with better players ( city with sylva aguero yaya navas jovetic… Read more »

Black Hei

It was a panic buy.

1. Wenger wanted to alleviate RVP’s goal scoring responsibilities.
2. Wenger wanted some star dust to convince RVP to stay.
3. Podolski was a fantastic talent available on the cheap.
4. He signature can be secured before CL qualification was achieved

Let’s just all agree to blame it on RVP. If you can’t agree to that you are just like the Dutch skunk, a closet Man U fan “)


Pretty much this (though I wouldn’t say panic buy).

We lost Van Persie so we bought Poldi (proven goal scorer for Koln and the German national team) and Giroud (top scorer in Ligue 1 the previous year).

Seems logical to me.


Stats on their own don’t really show the full picture (what’s new?). It’s not really surprising that his efficiency goes up the less minutes he plays. When he comes on as a sub in the last 15 minutes, he is a player with fresh legs against a tiring defence. This obviously compensates for his lack of acceleration, close control and speed, so he can get himself into goal scoring positions much more easily. As many commenters have said, when he played the full 90 minutes, he was often anonymous for most of the game and got bad ratings. Secondly, his… Read more »

Perry S.

wahey we have a comment winner. (there is sarcasm in this, totally on the real).


Lots of great goals and assists, but I also remember games like Cardiff on new years day 2014 – did fuck all all game and was hauled off for Bendtner (who won us that game). Wigan in the semi final – he was practically sitting to the left of Arteta in central midfield all game doing fuck all until he was hauled off for Giroud. Southampton in the league cup this year – once again didn’t contribute despite getting a start, and like Blogs said in a previous post, he got a reader rating of 2.5. Its not just the… Read more »

Gooners & Roses

Hi Tim, i’m wondering if you can come up with defensive contribution by our midfield players and forward players? So we can see ‘by the numbers’ on how well the offensive players (attacking mid and forward) contribute defensively.

I have long think that its our midfield onwards that couldn’t defend properly (especially in defensive positioning) leaving our defenders quite exposed even if not by counter attack. Although as shown recently against Soton, we also seems to have high numbers of defenders committing individual ‘unforced errors’ as they call it in Tennis.



I agree. I would like to see his defensive numbers from last season compared with Welbeck’s, Sanchez’s or Ox’s this season, as he hasn’t had any real time on the field so far this season. I don’t remember where, but someone put up a statistic that when Wilshere plays we let in a ton more goals than when Ramsey plays. Let’s see if when Poldi plays, his defensive work or lack there of results in us conceding so many.


The great Poldi debate – at least as it’s currently framed in a lot of places – misses the point a little. The reality was that he wasn’t getting much playing time under Wenger (whether deserved or otherwise) and was getting increasingly frustrated. He *wanted* away and Wenger clearly wasn’t of a mind to persuade him to stay. I still think Poldi was a great “super-sub,” someone who could come off the bench at crucial moments and get us a goal when we needed one (& seen in that light I don’t think he was such a “luxury player”). But… Read more »

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