Danny Welbeck provided the perfect response to his critics by scoring a hat-trick against Galatasaray in the 4-1 victory. This was the striker’s fourth goal in five appearances since moving to Arsenal in a £16 million deal from Manchester United. Welbeck was given a shocking parting gift from United after their manager Louis van Gaal stated that the 23-year-old was not good enough to play for them. Premier League betting odds from Betfair places Welbeck at 3/1 to score any time against Chelsea on Sunday. In fact, Welbeck is seen as the best Arsenal player to open the scoring.
Arsenal fans have instantly taken to Welbeck, who has been compared to a young Thierry Henry due to his qualities and physical stature. Henry was one of the best finishers in the game, and this probably seemed like the only quality that Welbeck lacked in his arsenal. The striker, though, has been consistently stating that his poor goal return is primarily because of being played out wide rather than as a striker. This was certainly the case at United and to a certain extent during his loan spell at Sunderland.
The importance of confidence within a striker cannot be stressed enough. Fernando Torres is probably a great example of how confidence works within the mind of a striker. The former Atletico Madrid striker became one of the best in the world during his few years at Liverpool before being the object of ridicule at Chelsea. Physically, he was almost the same player, but the lack of confidence was clearly apparent.
Welbeck appears to be benefiting from regular chances as the club’s central striker. He has never had the chance to play a run of more than five matches as the striker at a top club. Of course, it is easy to get carried away with his performances from just one match. Welbeck was disappointing in some of the matches against top teams like Borussia Dortmund and Manchester City. He did work extremely hard in both matches, but he fluffed his lines when it mattered the most.
Henry became a legend at Arsenal not just by scoring lots of goals, but by scoring important goals. Welbeck is going to be judged on this aspect.
Welbeck has strange record in that he has a better goals-per-game ratio at international level than at club level. He has scored 10 goals in 28 appearances for England. Even this ratio is still far away from making Welbeck as one of the top marksman around. Armed with this renewed confidence, Welbeck will be hoping to improve this record in the coming Euro 2016 qualifiers against Estonia and San Marino.
United would be ruing the decision to sell the 23-year-old, who still has at least a decade of top-level football left in him. As he qualifies as a home-grown player, Arsenal can afford to bring in a top foreign star to fill the 18 slots for non-home-grown players. Arsene Wenger felt that he had got a great deal when managed to get Welbeck for the same money as his original target, Mario Balotelli.
The major headache for Wenger could come if Welbeck continues on this good form. Olivier Giroud, who is on the verge of extending his contract by more years, is expected to return by the middle of December. The Frenchman provides a physicality that proved very crucial to Arsenal’s play last season. It remains to be seen if Giroud’s return forces Welbeck out wide once again. Wenger will be aware of Welbeck’s versatility and there is the danger of being tempted to utilise it.
The start to the season has been a tough one for Arsenal, but there are signs that the summer signings are starting to work well together. Alexis Sanchez has been a key player and he has already scored three goals. His assist for Welbeck’s second goal against Galatasaray will be the kind of understanding that Wenger will want more from his team in the coming weeks.
Despite the win against the Turkish club, Betfair places Arsenal as the second favourites to qualify from the group at 1/6. Dortmund’s victory over Anderlecht sees them in pole position to become group winners. Arsenal are at 11/5 to win the group, but it may not be a huge advantage given that the possibility of facing PSG or Barcelona in the last 16 either way.
One of the reasons for Welbeck dominating against Galatasaray was a slow defence with midfielder Felipe Melo playing at the back. It will be interesting to see how he copes with playing against Gary Cahill and John Terry when Arsenal take on Chelsea on Sunday. Terry is one of the slowest defenders around, but Chelsea have so far been able to work around this issue by playing a deeper defensive line. Welbeck’s pace should still be enough to pose the former England international a lot of problems.