independent

Friday 18 April 2014

Podolski adds to Wenger's worries with demand for central role

Ink-redible start: Lukas Podolski has made an instant impact at Arsenal. Photo: Reuters

Lukas Podolski has joined Theo Walcott in publicly announcing that he would like to play through the centre for Arsenal rather than out wide in Arsene Wenger's preferred 4-2-3-1 formation.

The striker has yet to produce his best form since arriving from Cologne in June and, after playing in the first match of the season against Sunderland as the main central striker, has since been asked to cut in from the left, as he does for Germany.

Podolski favours the central role he performed in scoring 32 goals over the past two seasons at Cologne.

"I'd rather play centrally up front," said Podolski. "On the left, I have to do a lot of defensive work, constantly running up and down. I am not a classical winger."

Wenger is also facing pressure from Walcott to start in a more central attacking position.

The problem, however, is that Wenger favours a formation with one main central striker to link the play and is clearly reluctant to revert to a variation of 4-4-2.

Olivier Giroud or Gervinho have generally started as the central striker so far this season but, following the departure of Robin van Persie, the position remains an area of relative weakness.

Podolski is confident that there is more to come from him as he continues his adaptation to English football.

"It was a change, a different country, a new club," he said. "I am getting along well, for sure, but I demand more of myself -- I want to play even better."

Wenger was questioned by the German media after Tuesday's 2-2 with Schalke about Podolski's position and suggested that he saw Walcott and Podolski as "strikers" in a front three.

Jack Wilshere (20), meanwhile, has urged Walcott and Arsenal to find agreement on extending the 23-year-old midfielder's contract.

Wilshere also admitted that he had, at times, questioned whether he would return the same player following his "heartbreaking" 16-month injury lay-off .

"Obviously you question yourself as to whether you can come back to the level you were at before," he said. "I think I can get back to that level. I feel better and better as the weeks go on."

Of Walcott, he added: "I hope he does sign. He's great for us." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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