Arsenal’s Danny Welbeck suffered a nasty injury against Sporting in a Europa League clash last week. The club’s official website recently confirmed that the 27-year-old had undergone surgery and the prevailing notion is that the forward will be out of action for a long time.
Although not a week in week out starter for Unai Emery’s side, Welbeck still plays a vital role in the Arsenal squad and the manager will now have to find a method of replicating the 42-cap England man’s influence on the pitch.
Whilst Welbeck is behind the likes of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the Arsenal pecking order, he offers the kind of wide-option to Emery that is lacking elsewhere in the squad.
On the flanks, Welbeck provides a hard-working presence willing to press relentlessly high up the pitch and track back diligently to perform his defensive duties. The former Manchester United man’s energy and pace allows the full-back behind him to push forward with greater security.
Whilst Alex Iwobi is in fine form, he doesn’t perform the wide role in the same manner. In certain games, against particular opponents, the option of adding Welbeck’s attributes into the mix makes the forward an invaluable asset to Emery.
Now deprived of Welbeck, the Gunners must find a way of reproducing his contribution to their cause when it is required. Iwobi must improve the defensive side of his game as Emery no longer has the option to introduce Welbeck when his side are hanging onto a lead.
Deploying Aaron Ramsey on the flank, where his natural stamina can protect the overlapping full-back, may also be an option for the north Londoners. In any case, though, losing Welbeck is a blow that could have significant tactical ramifications for Emery to address.