Speaking with Lukas Podolski

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 26:  Lukas Podolski of Arsenal celebrates victory after the Barclays Premier League match between West Ham United and Arsenal at Boleyn Ground on December 26, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***  459407415.jpg
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The last four months have been physically and mentally tough for Lukas Podolski, but the forward now has a smile back on his face and has vowed to help Arsenal fight for the title.

False start

The striker’s promising start to the season was halted by a hamstring injury sustained in a 2-0 Uefa Champions League play-off defeat of Fenerbahce on August 27. Arsene Wenger had initially expected Podolski to be back within 10 weeks, but it took until the trip to West Ham in the English Premier League on Thursday for him to eventually return.

Back on his feet

Introduced with 25 minutes remaining, the Germany international hit the ground running and struck home the final goal in a 3-1 win. “I have been out for a long time, four months,” Podolski said. “It was not easy, but I was happy to play again.”

The first-timer

“I have never had a muscle injury before so it was a new experience and not easy. It was a hamstring injury, my left one. They take a long time. It is nearly four months since I played. Every morning you come in, you have treatment, you work to get fit while the others are working outside. It is not easy for the head, but this is the way and I am young enough to play a lot of matches.”

Home alone

Part of the psychological strain Podolski came under was thanks to his team’s success on the field, with Arsenal spending much of the first half of the season at the top of the Barclays Premier League. “When you sit on the bench or in the stadium or on the couch at home, it is not easy to watch,” he said. “You don’t have the feeling with the team and in the dressing room.”

Fresh legs to recharge bid

Podolski’s return should help Olivier Giroud who has been handling the burden up front alone. And now the German forward is back, he is intent on adding a Premier League title to the Bundesliga crown he won with Bayern Munich. “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,” he said.