Belfast Telegraph

Monday 20 October 2014

Wenger backs Podolski to shine

Arsene Wenger belives Lukas Podolski, pictured, can offer a lot to Arsenal playing through the middle

Lukas Podolski has all the attributes needed to successfully lead the Arsenal attack, according to manager Arsene Wenger.

The Gunners must again do without 17-goal hitman Olivier Giroud when they travel to relegated QPR for Saturday's late afternoon kick-off as the Frenchman continues his three-match ban. Wenger has acknowledged he has a tough tactical call to make about whether to go for Podolski or Walcott in his place, but insisted the German has what it takes to play in a central role.

"It believe so, he has the qualities because he is a good finisher," Wenger said of Podolski, who is reported to be set for surgery on his troublesome ankle at the end of the season.

"He has a good technique and because we have a game based on very quick combinations I believe he can be a part of that. Overall I am convinced in the coming games he will show it.

"A definite decision has not been made, but if there is an opportunity then there is a good chance I will do it."

Wenger feels collectively the team deserves credit for continuing to maintain an attacking threat, with 99 goals from 50 games in all competitions this season, despite the departure of talisman forward Robin van Persie for United last summer.

"You want to know that you can score at least two goals in every game because it gives you a good belief," the Gunners boss said. "Overall, and considering we lost a world-class striker, I believe we have compensated quite well."

Walcott, meanwhile, feels he has already laid a claim to be deployed down the middle.

The 24-year-old is Arsenal's leading scorer with 19 in all competitions - which included hat-tricks against Reading and Newcastle. The pacy England international hopes to make the most of any more opportunities which come his way.

"I played a few games there and I would like a few more towards the end of the season," Walcott said. "I scored a lot of my goals this season when playing up front, so I have shown what I can do and it is up to the manager to do what he sees is best."

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