Leave it to Lukas

  • Last Updated: April 12 2014, 17:26 BST

Ian Ogg backs Lukas Podolski to score first in his preview of Saturday's FA Cup semi-final between Arsenal and Wigan.

Lukas Podolski: Could be key to Arsenal's chances
Lukas Podolski: Could be key to Arsenal's chances

Much of Arsenal's season hinges on Saturday's game and the possibility of reaching the FA Cup Final.

With due respect to the other three sides remaining in the competition, the Gunners could hardly have a better opportunity to end their elusive search for silverware but few gave Birmingham much of a chance of beating them in the 2011 League Cup Final.

A trip to Wembley would bring some much needed light to a season that promised so much for the North Londoners but threatens to deliver so little with injuries playing a significant role in their stuttering form.

Wigan have been enjoying a terrific run of form under rising star Uwe Rosler who has been helped by the end of the club's involvement in the Europa League.

The Latics have only lost four of their 28 games since their 2-1 defeat to Maribor in mid-December and went on a run which saw them win nine out of 10, including their quarter final defeat of Manchester City.

It's clear that the cup holders shouldn't be underestimated but their recent form has, however, been less encouraging with two of those defeats coming in their last five games.

They've drawn two others with their only victory coming against Leeds United and, let's face it, who hasn't beaten them lately.

Since beating Watford on March 25, they've played on the 29th, 1st, 5th and 8th and that sort of schedule has got to take a toll. It's possible that the squad have taken their eye off the ball with this fixture on the horizon but, with a return to the Premier League up for grabs, they shouldn't have needed any motivation to maintain their run in the League and it could just be that their season is running out of gas.

Arsenal's confidence can hardly be sky high after suffering damaging defeats against Chelsea and Everton and drawing with Swansea with a bizarre late own goal and they also have a significant injury list to contend with.

Aaron Ramsey is set to return but they have a lengthy injury list and late decisions will be made over Kieron Gibbs, Tomas Rosicky and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Wenger will have to shuffle his pack.

The pressure will be on them and their fans are likely to be edgy and they will need to show mental strength - not an accusation that's often been levelled at them - if they fail to take an early lead or get put under early pressure.

The fact remains, though, that they should prove too good for the Championship side and that is reflected in the prices, although, at 1/2, they are likely to be a staple of the day's accumulators.

It hasn't been a season to remember for Lukas Podolski with injuries, question marks over his work rate and a lack of game time in a World Cup year but the talented German should relish this stage.

He already has three FA Cup goals to his name this season with a brace against 1987 winners Coventry City and the second goal against Liverpool and the wide-open spaces of Wembley should afford him ample opportunity to net again.

He may divide opinion but there's no denying his talent and a record of eight goals in 20 games (he started only 13 of those) is a respectable return given that he's been employed on the left hand side of the attack.

Rather than back Arsenal to get the job done at a short price, we'll have a small interest in the first goalscorer market where Podolski can be backed at 5/1.