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Boss says new Arsenal goal hero has moved on from Munich nightmare

Arsenal's Lukas Podolski. Picture: Sean Dempsey/PA Wire Arsenal's Lukas Podolski. Picture: Sean Dempsey/PA Wire

By James Cunliffe, james.cunliffe@archant.co.uk
Friday, September 21, 2012
11:00 PM

Arsene Wenger believes the gamble to sign Lukas Podolski is proving worthwhile and that the forward has learnt from his ill-fated spell at Bayern Munich.

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The German international signed for the Gunners in the summer in an £11 million switch from Cologne – his second spell at his home-town club.

Sandwiched in between was an unhappy three years spent in Bavaria where he failed to make the grade at Germany’s most successful club.

He returned to Cologne but despite their relegation from the Bundesliga last term, Podolski fired 18 goals, to spark Arsenal’s interest.

“We are in a position where we have to take this kind of gamble,” Wenger said of the attacker ahead of Sunday’s clash with Premier League champions Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.

“I think sometimes, when a player goes to a big club very early, very young, they cannot always handle it. Sometimes when they go to a big club they have somebody in front of them that they cannot take the place of.

“Maybe he was not ready or completely mature to do it, I don’t know.

“Now he is because now he’s 27. Between that period and now he has [won] 50-60 more caps with Germany and has a World Cup and European Championship behind him.”

Podolski has made an instant impact in north London, netting a goal in each of his last three games for the Gunners, but for Wenger his talent was never in doubt.

The manager said: “We signed a player who was in a club and not doing well. If you look at last year for example, he scored 20 goals for a club that went down. That, for me, is worth 30 in a club that is dominating a championship.

“It doesn’t mean he will score 30 because he played as a central striker last year. For us he plays more on the left side but he can finish, for sure.

“He has experience. He has 100 caps and you see that in the games, he’s calm and when he gets a chance like the other night [in the 2-1 win over Montpellier], when you see him in front of goal, you think that will be a goal.”

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Arsenal

Nickname: The Gunners.

Ground: Emirates Stadium (capacity 60,361).

Founded: 1886.

Honours: First Division (until 1992) and Premier League: 1931, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1938, 1948, 1953, 1971, 1989, 1991, 1998, 2002, 2004.

FA Cup: 1930, 1936, 1950, 1971, 1989, 1991, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2005.

League Cup: 1987, 1993.

Fairs Cup: 1970.

Cup Winners’ Cup: 1994.

Leading goalscorer: Thierry Henry, 228.

Leading appearances: David O’Leary, 722.