Podolski Pain and Rosicky Redemption
Podolski Pains, Rosicky Redemption and Fickle Fans……
I write this in the aftermath of the North London Derby. There is plenty of material I could spin a yarn about in the space of those 90 frustrating minutes. The fact that our defence has less meat on it than Victoria Beckham after a colonic. The number of rash tackles from our hideously deformed neighbours. The positive displays of Jack, The Ox, Chambers and Kos. The sheer effort put in by supposedly lackadaisical Ozil. Or even about why Sanchez – who is on a hot streak – didn’t start. I will leave these for another time though. I want to focus on another fixture. One that seemed to be treated with a trace of disdain.
The match against Southampton in the former Rumbelows/Milk/Carling/Capital One Cup had many telltale signs for a match that was cast to the shadows of irrelevance by most of us. The line-up was much changed as expected, with even the Lesser-Spotted Diaby starting a match for the first time since mobile phones didn’t have to be carried in a suitcase. The general concensus on social networks was that the re-re-re-re-re-emergence of Abou was the main focal point of a game that carried many positives despite the negative scoreline.
In a defence that comprised Bellerin, Chambers, a composed Hayden and Coquelin - we only lost to a penalty and a screamer from Nathaniel Clyne. Seeing as Saints had much of their first team playing that has earned them 2nd place in the League table – I think this can be gleaned as a positive. I may be grasping at straws but seeing as our defence is lacking in depth, the fact that Coquelin and Hayden can now be seriously considered as back-up enables me to stop having Jok-Kittens when I see BFG or Gibbs fall awkwardly.
This isn’t what I wanted to examine in detail though. First up under the microscope is Lukas Podolski.
Ah, Podolski. Or should that be Aha……….erm.
The man that provides much of the mirth that seems to be emanate from the training ground photos we see through the week. The man who is the self-proclaimed King of the Selfie. The man who has a shot so venomous that Steve Irwin before his untimely demise attempted to handle it in a manner hazardous to his health.
For a player with such a glittering Honours List for his country – a successful country to boot – his displays for us can be summed up as sporadic at best. For every brace he scored against West Ham, he also puts in two or three appearances where he shows less enthusiasm than a horse on a tour around a Findus factory. It is OK to say he shouldn’t have to track back as he isn’t a conventional winger. Fair enough. Either is Santi. Neither is the Ox nor Ozil. They have all shown that running back to aid our defence and hustle the opposition is an admirable trait that can be passed down from midfield to attack. Not only is his lack of defensive work an issue, but as an attacking outlet with his shot being the main asset – surely he should be making lung-busting runs to get into the danger zones? His perceived lack of interest is disconcerting to say the least. Wenger’s selection has been iffy at times this season but you can see why Lukas has been used less than a tactics manual at Old Trafford this season. Some of you may say I shouldn’t judge after one solitary start this season – but I’m not. Last season was much of the same from our bonkers German. He has had numerous chances to stake a claim for the first XI and has fluffed his lines with listless performances which has only served to remind Wenger and most fans that he cannot be relied upon. This brings me to another fan favourite…….
Little Mozart. Rozza himself. The player who inserts so much forward thrust into our game we should call him ‘The Sexual Aid’. In his 8 years with us – aside from being Diaby’s main Battleship opponent on the treatment table – he has been the go-to-guy for quelling threats and instantaneously converting it into a counter-attack. Always forward thinking with an eye for a shot, he works tirelessly and without complaint. We love him for genuine reasons.
Against Southampton though - he was off-key. The penalty he gave away was undoubtedly a spot-kick. You could see he was trying to convert defence into attack when he made the boo-boo. He just got it horribly wrong. It was also his first start this season so his timing must’ve been off. It may seem to the outside observer that I’m being terribly unfair to Lukas but being biased towards Tomas. This is bilge however. I could have you killed for even thinking that my writing isn’t 100%, pure, Grade-A FACT.
Tomas has time and again proved that he is ultra-effective when we are looking to hit on the break and he has the ball at his melodic feet. He can tackle ( Saints aside ) and has the stamina of a man ten years his younger. Compare that to Podolski who had his moments last season ( Bayern, West Ham ) but ultimately when he played he left fans scratching their heads as to why he not only failed to score but why he failed to contribute in even the minutiae of manoeuvres,.
Rosicky and Podolski have had ample chances to perform and sway fans judgments. For fans to call doubt on both is a sign of the times. Pundits and journalists often comment on the lifespan of a manager and how critically short it now seems to be. You have to hit the ground running before the axe comes-a-swingin. It would seem the span of a footballer seems shorter. Now all it takes is one bad game and a former hero can be tossed out into the wilderness and his legacy left to wither.
An alarming number of fans called doubt on both of these players in the post-game observations. In a pod a month or so previously for @Goonerspherepod - my fellow podders and I stated that Podolski doesn’t really fit onto our system and hasn’t exactly endeared himself with his dearth of endeavour. If he wasn’t such a loon in front of the camera or such a good sport in regards to Arsenal’s off-pitch exploits, would we hold him in such high regard? If we judged him on his performances on the pitch alone – would he be considered a first-team regular or a dispensable asset? I would opt for the latter. I can understand why Gooners would suggest that Podolski should be on his way out of London Colney.
Rosicky though? A player who covers epic distances? Who up until this season even with the inability to strike up a rhythm due to a scarcity of constant games, was able to contribute effectively in even the shortest of cameos? A player who is willing to play out of position to enhance the chances of his team? Fans think that Tomas should be on his way out? Do we have no patience anymore? Can we not abide a singular poor performance? Can we not take into account mitigating circumstances anymore – instead we simply read the front cover and decree it’s garbage?
If a player puts in a sedentary performance – does this now mean we have to put him in the bin with the rest of the Raggy Dolls?
Arteta may not have the legs for the more frenetic of games, but does that mean he isn’t Arsenal class? Flamini may require brushing up on the finer points of the technical game but do we now judge him to be dispensable as he was responsible for the goal we conceded Vs spurs? Do we forget the fantastic shutouts BFG earned alongside Kos now that he is a tad out of form? Do we forget completely about Rosicky being the Chief Game-Changer from the bench the last few seasons as he had a shocker in his first start of the season? Are we becoming Chelski fans?
I’m not being defensive just because I love our players. I just find it preposterous I have to stick up for some of them after one bad performance. It would seem that a lot have their own agenda. Even if Wilshere has another blinder, there are some that simply don’t like him and wish him to move on. Ignorance is an epidemic. If a player is wearing the Cannon, then we should support him on the pitch. When the match is over, if he has stunk out the stadium with his funk, then we have every right to pull apart his display and proffer our opinion as to where he may be able to improve. That is more than fair. For some of us to resolve that a player has had his chips at our club after one game and forget his overall talent and previous performances though? Completely forget about form and lack of appearances? That is the same as deciding you now officially dislike pizza after having a Dominos and finding a pube on it. It doesn’t mean you hate pizza. You just don’t think this particular time you had pizza was any good. In fact, you thought it was awful.
I think I’ll end on that wonderfully terrible analogy. You catch my drift. Rosicky is awesome.