ESPN FC Extra: Newcastle v Arsenal preview
Arsenal forward Lukas Podolski has spoken of the misery he endured as he was forced to spend much of the first half of the Premier League season on the sidelines.
Podolski picked up an injury in Arsenal’s Champions League playoff clash against Fenerbahce in late August and did not reappear until he came off the bench to make a scoring return in the 3-1 victory against West Ham at Upton Park on Thursday.
The Germany international will now look to continue his comeback with another appearance in Arsenal’s game at Newcastle on Sunday.
“I have been out for a long time, four months, so it was not easy,” he told his club’s official website. “I have never had a muscle injury before so it was a new experience. It was a hamstring injury and they take a long time [to recover from].
“Every morning you come in, you have treatment, you work hard to get fit while the others are working outside. It is not easy for the head.
“When you sit on the bench or on the couch at home, it is not easy to watch. You don’t have the feeling [of being] with the team and in the dressing room, but that is the way it is in football, so I am all the more happy to be back.”
The return of Podolski and fellow long-term injury victim Theo Walcott has provided Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger with a welcome boost during a hectic time of the season, with the German suggesting the Gunners intend to hang on to top spot in the Premier League in 2014.
“Every match is important now -- every match is about three points,” he added. “We are top and we want to stay there. It is not easy because there are five or six teams who are all strong this season, but we have a strong team and we will fight.
“It was important we got the three points [at West Ham] because the last few matches we drew or lost and you’re always happy when you get an assist or score a goal.
“I remember last season we had a lot of injuries and a lot of problems. Now we have only one or two, so it’s good. We have the three points and it was a derby, so it was good for the fans.”
There are reports suggesting manager Wenger is considering handing lead striker Olivier Giroud a rest in the next couple of weeks, with Walcott or Podolski tipped to take his place up front.
Welsh midfielder Aaron Ramsey will miss the trip to Newcastle after picking up a thigh injury in Arsenal’s game at West Ham.