Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is confident fit-again German forward Lukas Podolski can have a big impact as the Gunners look to last the distance in the Barclays Premier title race.
With Theo Walcott sidelined for the rest of the season and out of the World Cup after suffering a serious knee injury in the closing stages of the FA Cup win over Tottenham last weekend, Arsenal are in need of some attacking options to support lead frontman Olivier Giroud.
Podolski marked his return from four months out with a torn hamstring to come off the bench and score in the 3-1 win at West Ham on Boxing Day.
Although the 28-year-old was then somewhat subdued when handed a start in a central attacking role for the New Year’s Day game against Cardiff, Wenger is in no doubt of what Podolski can bring to the side when firing on all cylinders.
“Podolski has been out for four months and after being available, it doesn’t mean you are competitive in the Premier League – it takes some time to come back,” said Wenger, whose side head to Aston Villa on Monday night looking to sustain their position at the top of the table.
“He is working hard. This week he looked sharper in training, so he is getting close now to being completely fit again.
“If there is one (player) you want to see in front of the goal in a shooting position, it is him because Podolski is certainly one of the best finishers I have ever seen.
“He can play that central role when he is completely fit and is one of the potential assets we have there.
“When he is physically ready, he will of course help us.”
Written by George Coomber