Lukas Podolski puts Arsenal ahead of personal glory
Olivier Giroud returns from suspension this weekend
Friday 17 May 2013
Lukas Podolski does not care who scores the goals to fire Arsenal into the Champions League next season - so long as they get there.
The German forward netted a brace in the 4-1 win over Wigan on Tuesday night, which pushed the Gunners back above Tottenham and also confirmed relegation of the FA Cup winners.
However, with France striker Olivier Giroud available again after a three-match suspension for Sunday's crucial end-of-season clash at Newcastle, where victory would secure at least fourth place in the Barclays Premier League, Podolski could be moved back out to the left flank.
Podolski, 27, has produced consistent displays since his summer move from Cologne, with 16 goals in all competitions.
"We needed the three points (against Wigan) and got the three points so we are looking forwards to the next match now," Podolski told Arsenal Player.
"I am always happy with a goal, but the three points were more important for us.
"We are in the fight for the Champions League places and for third place, so now will prepare for the next match."
England forward Theo Walcott continued his impressive campaign with goal number 21 against Wigan, and manager Arsene Wenger accepts he has something of a selection poser as Giroud returns from the ban imposed after a red card at Fulham on April 20.
"I am happy to have him back," Wenger said on the club's official website, http://www.arsenal.com.
"He has been out for a while now and missed some games so he will be full of enthusiasm and can help us at some stage.
"Is it from the start or coming on? I don't know yet."
Arsenal look set to be without midfielder Mikel Arteta (calf) this weekend. Jack Wilshere, the England international set for summersurgery to clear up a niggling ankle problem, is on stand-by.
"In one game you can always compensate. It is more of a problem when a guy like that (Arteta) misses 10 games," Wenger said.
"(for) one game, we will find the resources to do without him if we have to.
"I am convinced we can because he was out for a while during the season and I played all sorts of combinations.
"Arteta was out and we played (Aaron) Ramsey and Wilshere. A few times I played (Francis) Coquelin and (Abou) Diaby, so we had a few combinations that could work."
A partnership which certainly has impressed in the Arsenal defence has been between Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny, so much so, that they are keeping captain Thomas Vermaelen out of the side.
German centre-back Mertesacker has endured plenty of criticism since arriving from Werder Bremen in August 2011, with some suggestions he would be sold in the summer.
However, the 6ft 6in defender now feels very much a key man.
"I do not think they want to get rid of me after this season here," Mertesacker said in an interview with German media website http://www.Sport1.de.
"I have become an integral part of the team and have really earned respect here.
"Sometimes you have to be self-confident enough and just let the press write what they want, but it is always getting quieter in this regard, and that is a good sign."
Should Arsenal win by a two-goal margin and Europa League winners Chelsea draw or even lose at home to Everton, then Wenger's men could yet end the season in third place - or indeed face a play-off with the Blues if all of their statistics are tied come the final whistle.
Mertesacker maintains Arsenal must just focus on delivering the required result following an unbeaten nine-game league run.
"We must really put a shift in against Newcastle and really give everything again in our last game," he said.
"It was a long, gruelling season, but we will do everything possible to win there."
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