Prince Podolski and Lord Bendtner remind us of what Arsenal are missing
The interlull is well and truly upon us, and you might, therefore, be suffering from acute symptoms – withdrawal from meaningful news, propensity to believe transfer rumours, a pervasive fear that someone will suffer a life-threatening, if not career-ending, injury whilst playing out the final minutes of a 13-0 win over San Marino, among others. But interlullitis, for all of its pernicious aches and pains, is not without its potential benefits.
For one, we saw our own Mesut Özil elevated to captain of the German squad against the Socceroos. For another, two cult favourites showed just enough of what they're occasionally capable of to make us perhaps a bit wistful for the salad days. Lukas Podolski netted late on to equalise against Australia, and Lord Bendtner notched a hat-trick against your correspondent's home-country in a 3-2 win for Denmark. It's almost enough to make us wish we'd never bid either one farewell. Or lebewohl. Or farvel...
To be clear, it's not as if we're suffering for their departures. Quite the contrary. We've been on a fine run of form of late, winning nine of our last ten, and so it would seem just a bit churlish to pine for players whom we have cast off. In Bendtner's case, of course, we have finally bid him a firm (if not fond) farewell; in Podolski's, we reserve the right to recall him (eventually) from his loan to Inter.
However, ears are bound to perk up when we hear that a Gunner, former or soon to be such, scores on international duty. In the case of Podolski, he delivered in a style all too familiar: subbed on late in the second half, chasing a result, and poaching a goal against an inferior opponent. Germany were indeed a bit fortunate to come away from this one with a draw, and it's down to the indomitable industriosity of Prince Podolski that they did. Give me a moment as I roll my eyes...aaaaand...done.
Elsewhere, The Greatest Striker that Ever Lived delivered a hat-trick, with each goal more sumptuous than the last, as Denmark overcame a fiesty but ultimately overmatched United States side. As his squad's offensive focal point, he flourished, reminding us of what might have been and could have been. At his best, he could have been a target-man along the lines of Charlie George, someone who could latch on to crosses with the best of them.
Now, no one will mistake the likes of Australia or the United States for high-quality opposition just yet, and so it would be a bit hasty to wonder whether we might be better off having held on to the likes of Podolski or Bendtner rather than doing our level best to cast them off like so much already-used tissue. Let's be honest. Neither one impressed to a degree that warranted their staying.
Then again, each one was marginalised, each in his own way. Bendtner was, in essence, van Persie-ed, shunted aside in favor of the newer, shinier model, and he never really recovered the form that made him that TGSTEL in the first place. Had it not been for the Dutch Skunk's exploits, we might still bow down at the throne that is Bendtner.
So too goes it go with Podolski but for very different reasons. He was Arshavin-ed (a corollary to the being van Persie-ed), made to play on the wing when he might have delivered more through the middle; as a result, his lack of industry was all the more exposed. It's one thing to linger and skulk about the edges of the area as a striker; it's quite another to do the same as a winger. Like Bendtner and Arshavin, Podolski delivered moments and even sustained periods of brilliance, but, none of the three showed that they could be depended on to deliver reliably. So it goes.
If nothing else, we should wish each of them well in their endeavours for club and country and hope that their performances offer a useful template for Gunners still in the fold: play well, deliver a goal or two, and avoid injury. That doesn't sound like too much to ask, now, does it?