Arsenal’s double Gameweek 23 is set to increase interest in Lukas Podolski as Fantasy managers look to take advantage of the London side’s visit to Chelsea and a home game with West Ham. Priced at 8.2 in the Fantasy Premier League (FPL) game, Podolski looks a ready-made replacement for Demba Ba, who was snapped up by 228,600 managers ahead of the Blues’ double Gameweek 22. Many of the former Newcastle striker’s owners are already nervous about his long-term value under Chelsea’s rotation-obsessed manager Rafa Benitez, with the suggestion that Fernando Torres will start tonight’s encounter with Southampton. Podolski is a straight swap option in the same price bracket.
Amongst Arsenal’s forwards, Podolski certainly looks the safest option; having cemented a role on the left of an attacking three, he has started all but two of the side’s Premier League matches this season. With 89 points in the Fantasy Premier League (FPL) game he is Arsenal’s highest ranked forward – only out-of-position midfielder Theo Walcott and Santi Cazorla have produced more points. With six goals scored and six assists this season, Podolski has both threat and creativity in his locker and has attracted 11 FPL bonus points, a tally bettered only by Cazorla and equalled by Walcott. In the Sky Sports game, where he is priced at £8.5m, Podolski also represents good value, having notched 88 points.
While Podolski, who has four double-digit points hauls to his name, is primed for investment ahead of the double gameweek he is not too shabby a purchase for the long term as well. Looking ahead, Arsenal have a kind run of fixtures over the next six game weeks (LIV, STO, sun, AVL, tot, EVE) including four home games and a North London derby with Tottenham, which are often high scoring ties. With Mikel Arteta sidelined due to a calf injury, Podolski looks set to be next in line for spot-kicks, according to his manager – furthering his appeal as a mid-price option.
Those investing in his services can also be assured of a strong pedigree, having scored 44 times in his 106 appearances for the German national side. This includes three goals in the 2006 World Cup and a further three at Euro 2008. Prior to joining Arsenal, on a four year deal this summer, he had just recorded his best top flight club haul for FC Cologne, where he scored 18 times and assisted seven goals in 29 Bundesliga appearances.
There is a slight caveat, though. During tight games Podolski is often sacrificed early on for a more defensive minded player. In Arsenal’s 1-1 draw with Southampton in Gameweek 21 he left the pitch on the 57 minute mark and in the following week against Manchester City at home, he departed before the hour once again; while his starting role is not in doubt, there’s every chance Podolski won’t last the full 90 minutes in either match.
Fantasy managers need to assess whether, over two appearances, he’ll be given opportunity to return scores that will surpass the alternatives up front. While Theo Walcott and Santi Cazorla remain firm favourites for the armband, Podolski appears to offer the next best route for those looking to treble up on attacking assets in Wenger’s lineup or avoid using up two midfield slots, with such riches available in that position elsewhere. The injury to Arteta, bringing spot-kicks into the equation, may just seal the deal for some.
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For Gameweek 38
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“We have dynamic players with good movement, so if he can link with them fine. He can play a bit higher because his timing getting into the box is very good.”Rafa Benitez talks up the role that Frank Lampard can play in his Chelsea revolution