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Wenger praises Podolski after scoring return

The 28-year-old striker had been absent since suffering a hamstring injury against Fenerbahce in August, but came off the bench to net his side's third goal on his comeback in the 3-1 triumph at West Ham on Thursday.

And Wenger is thrilled to welcome the Germany international back into his squad.

"Podolski made a huge difference because we had good width and created many problems," he said.

"He's been out for four months and not played one game.

"I tried to get him slowly back to competitiveness and he's shown he can have a huge impact because he can score and make assists."

Arsenal had fallen behind at Upton Park when Carlton Cole capitalised an error by goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.

Wenger introduced Podolski in an attempt to trigger a response, a move the Frenchman conceded was a risk with an array of attacking talent already on the pitch, potentially leaving the side vulnerable in defence.

He added: "When you have him (Podolski), Theo Walcott, Olivier Giroud, Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla on the pitch, you know you can lose the ball and be vulnerable, but we had to go for it."

Arsenal's triumph came on the back of three Premier League matches without a win and saw Wenger's leapfrog over the likes of Liverpool into top spot. The leaders now continue the club's title challenge with a difficult trip to Newcastle United on Sunday.