Gunners manager says Lukas Podolski is back to his best after mid-season slump.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has admitted that Lukas Podolski suffered a dip in form in the middle of this season but is backing the striker to finish the campaign with a flourish.
The Germany international has scored 14 goals in all competitions since arriving from Cologne in the summer, but is the most substituted player in the Premier League, having only completed 90 minutes on six occasions this season.
The 27-year-old is again expected to lead the line in the absence of the suspended Olivier Giroud against Wigan on Tuesday and his manager believes the former Bayern Munich star is back to his best following a mid-season slump.
“He had a good start [to the season], a very strong start,” Wenger is quoted as saying by the Sport Review.
“After that, he suffered a little bit physically and mentally because in Germany they have a break in mid-season.
“We have seen with many German players that when they come in for the first season, mentally they suffer a little bit. Now he has recovered and is getting stronger again.”
The Frenchman also explained why Podolski has been substituted so many times this season.
“On the flanks is the most demanding position. Physically, especially in England, it’s very tough.
“He’s a striker. Many times we were in a position where we were in a winning position in the final 20 minutes and then I take a bit more of a guarantee defensively and take him out of the team sometimes.”
Wenger was speaking ahead of Arsenal’s crucial home match with the Latics.
If the Gunners win, they will leapfrog rivals Tottenham Hotspur into fourth place in the Premier League, ahead of the final round of fixtures next weekend.