When Danny Welbeck made his unexpected move from Manchester United to top four rivals Arsenal the 24-year-old had finally found a way to feature in his preferred striker role. Used predominately as a winger Welbeck was now free to prove he had been right all along. The only problem is that he’s neither shown himself to be right or wrong.
In 26 league appearances for the Gunners, Welbeck has scored four times which, in comparison to the club’s other two strikers Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud who are each on 14, is woeful. Both have come in and out of form this season but are typically up to the task when called upon. Particularly Sanchez who during his first season has adapted amazingly well to the English game and fully deserves his PFA Player of the Year nomination.
Although Welbeck has come under for some criticism the young man has fortunately missed the brunt of it thanks to Giroud and Sanchez’s vital contributions that has seen Arsenal climb as high as second with only league leaders Chelsea too far ahead to catch. If either player had suffered a lengthy lay-off then Welbeck’s lack of impact would surely have been more of a talking point.
At United, Ashley Young, Juan Mata and at times Angel di Maria have all been successfully deployed on the wings so the Red Devils have not missed Welbeck in the slightest. If anything United are overstocked with attacking midfielders and Welbeck would have had to fight just to keep a position he doesn’t even care for. Though, saying that, with United desperate for strikers this season Welbeck may have gotten his chance to shine up front. Whether he would have taken that chance, well, we’ll never really know.
Most players do need some time to adjust to playing for a new club but Welbeck should be experienced enough to be able to make that adjustment within the course of a season. After all he has played at the top level in the Premier League for many seasons and is an England international. If Sanchez can find his feet then Welbeck can also.
Welbeck has a long term contract with Arsenal so as long as he still has the faith of Arsene Wenger then he can work on finishing the season as best as possible and then just forget this very unremarkable year. Next time around, though, he needs to prove to supporters that they didn’t just pick up Manchester United’s cast off or he’ll find his reputation hard to rebuild.
Welbeck was featuring regularly for United but chose to give that all up for the chance to play striker in north London so the goals need to flow next campaign or his opportunities will start to dry up. Only time will tell if he made the right choice to join the Gunners or if he should have stayed loyal to his childhood club.