It’s been a fine week for Danny Welbeck, the kind that will remind Gareth Southgate exactly what he can offer England at this summer’s World Cup in Russia. It started on Sunday when the Arsenal forward inspired a 3-2 comeback win over a defiant Southapton side at the Emirates Stadium, popping up with two goals and one assist from the left wing.
And it continued on Thursday evening as Arsenal eventually dispatched CKSA Moscow in the second leg of their Europa League quarter-final, after threatening to endure the same humiliation as Barcelona in the Champions League on Tuesday by exactly the same scoreline with the Russian side netting twice – meaning just one more strike would have put them through on away goals at 4-4.
But just when Arsenal had their toes on the edge of a cliff concaving the abyss, it was Welbeck who pulled them back away to safety. A dazzling touch on the left wing beat a CKSA defender and was then followed by a perfectly executed one-two with Mohamed Elneny, the Egyptian international weighting a defence-splitting pass with enough precision for Welbeck to dash through the backline and curl beyond the goalkeeper with his first reconnecting touch.
The 37-cap international’s form since returning from injury, coupled with his ability to occupy more central roles in attack, will no doubt appeal to Southgate, especially as this England squad owes as much to it’s variety of versatile options as it does the quality of its personnel. But at Arsenal, it could have ramifications too – while Welbeck emerged as the hero of the hour, Alexandre Lacazette trudged off after 77 minutes, without a single shot on target to his name, and the 27-year-old fittingly replaced him at the tip of attack to see out the remainder of the clash.
That will have been a particularly sore moment for the France international, who Transfermarkt value at £49.5million. With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang cup-tied for the Europa League, this should be the competition in which he proves his importance to Arsenal, rivalling the January signing’s form in the Premier League. Currently though, Welbeck’s contributions are at the very least on par – in fact, Welbeck has scored one more goal in Europe’s second competition this season – and while one cost Arsenal a club-record transfer fee last summer, the other cost around a third of that and bring so much more to the team than just finding the net.
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