EPL: Welbeck a perfect fit for Arsenal

EPL: Welbeck a perfect fit for Arsenal

He is not Edinson Cavani. He is not Ezequiel Lavezzi. He is certainly not Radamel Falcao.

But Danny Welbeck could still prove to be one of the most important Arsenal signings in the last decade.

The Gunners left it late on transfer deadline day, using a loophole to gain an extension and pushing the final paperwork through after the window had officially closed, but they finally got their man.

At reportedly £16 million ($33m) and tied to a five-year contract, he certainly represents value for money.

If the move doesn't work out, he'll fetch at least half of that in resale value. If it does, then it's a bargain.

It was a transfer that simply had to happen if Arsenal were to have any hope of meeting expectations this year.

With Olivier Giroud out until January, Arsene Wenger's options were limited.

Lukas Podolski has never impressed in the central role. Alexis Sanchez looks better suited to the flanks. Yaya Sanogo simply isn't ready for such responsibility.

The idea that Arsenal could cope for three to four months without an adequate striker was ludicrous.

And Welbeck is certainly more than adequate.

Though there are legitimate concerns about his low rate of scoring, to focus on that neglects two important points.

Firstly, he has never been given an extended run in his favoured central position, the role that Arsenal have in mind.

All players need time to build confidence and to adjust to the movement of their teammates.

Welbeck has been used, more often than not, out on the flanks where his pace can cause fullbacks problems.

When he has been used as the lone striker, he has known that he has had to do something exceptional to retain his place and perhaps his confidence suffered as a result.

At Arsenal, he'll know that the striker's role belongs to him. He'll have time to prove himself.

But, more pertinently, Welbeck has skills that go beyond scoring.

He is an intelligent forward, one who reads the game superbly, watching the movements of his teammates, selflessly bringing them in the game.

He's quick, but he's strong too, particularly in the upper body. He can hold the ball up by holding the opposition off.

For any team, this would be a bonus but, for Arsenal, with all of their attacking midfielders, it could prove critical.

Make no mistake, Sanchez and Mesut Oezil will be delighted to have a teammate like Welbeck.

But, for as much as Arsenal need Welbeck to perform, Welbeck needs Arsenal.


He is at a dangerous period of his career where notions of youth and potential quickly fade, where brighter, more tender talents steal the limelight.

He needs to settle now and prove that the faith Sir Alex Ferguson had in him was not misplaced.

There is also the question of international football.

Fleeting appearances from the bench might have been enough to secure a seat on Roy Hodgson's bench, but it wouldn't have been enough for the starting line-up.

Football is a hysterical, short-term sport nowadays, when teams can lurch from glory to crisis in a matter of days.

Many Arsenal fans expressed their frustrations through social media at Welbeck's recruitment.

Others gathered outside the Emirates Stadium and cheered when it was suggested that the deal had fallen through.

They should ask themselves how they would feel if Arsenal hadn't signed a striker at all.

There was a point, as readers of yesterday's TNP will have seen, when it looked as if the Gunners might not spend at all.

Whatever you think of Welbeck, the outlook is far brighter for Arsenal now.

Put simply, with poor, raw Sanogo up front, Arsenal were at risk of missing out on the top four.

Their early-season performances, the Community Shield notwithstanding, have been unconvincing affairs.

With Welbeck, they have a chance to evolve. They could be dangerous in front of goal again.

They might not win the title but, with Welbeck, they won't miss out on the Champions League.

He's a link player, he's a creator, he's unpredictable and don't forget he's still young. There's still mileage in him and, if he is in the right team and given the right run of games, I think he will score more goals.

- Rene Meulensteen, who coached Welbeck during his spell as United first-team coach under Sir Alex Ferguson

He can fit into the Arsenal philosophy. He's very good technically and has shown that playing for his country. He's quick, he can cover the ground and that's a nice contrast to Olivier Giroud. They could actually play together.

- Former Gunners striker Alan Smith

I worked with Danny Welbeck for a long period of time with the England Under-21s. He's a smashing kid. He needs first-team football to push him on and take him to the next level.

- Former England international defender Stuart Pearce

This article was first published on September 03, 2014.
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