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Nov 8, 2012

'Culture shock' hindering Podolski

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger claims summer signing Lukas Podolski is suffering from "culture shock" as he adapts to life in the Premier League.

• Macintosh: Wenger's final act?
• Blog: Walcott centre of attention

Wenger has suggested Podolski will need time to emerge after playing with a team who became his family at Cologne, with the physical demands of English football also a test for newcomers.

Podolski claimed earlier in the week that he would rather play as a striker than in a wide position that demands plenty of hard graft, yet his manager seems keen for him to fit into his Arsenal framework in the role he is currently being asked to fill.

"When you come to England, it's a shock," says Wenger. "In England, you have guys like Rooney, who works his socks off and everybody works hard. There is no room for anybody to work less or you don't exist.

"For example, in last Saturday's game at Man United, the physical intensity of the game was absolutely unbelievable. If you have one or two players who don't do that, you just don't exist at all. Podolski will adapt, I don't have worries for him. He has a very good spirit and he wants to do very well.

"I don't find many players who don't want to play central. Podolski has 101 caps in Germany, and 101 on the left. I brought him as well with the idea that, when needed, he would play through the middle. I like the idea, but we will use him where he is useful for the team. It's not a problem. I believe it's important to have potential central strikers."

Wenger went on to defend the credentials of skipper Thomas Vermaelen, despite some obvious mistakes that have dented the confidence of his Belgian centre-back.

"You put pressure on yourself when you are captain to be the best player in the team," he said. "If you make one then maybe you put a bit more pressure on yourself then because you think I am the captain and I cannot afford that. If he deserves to be in the team, I play him and I believe he deserves to play."

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