Why Danny Welbeck's return could be great news for Arsenal
It is the good news that Arsenal fans had probably forgotten they wanted to hear. After seven months out with yet another knee problem, Danny Welbeck is back in training and raring to get his 2016/17 season under way.
Welbeck’s move south to the Emirates has been blighted by injury. His £16 million transfer from Manchester United went through over two years ago now, in September 2014, and Arsenal’s return for their investment has been just 49 appearances and 13 goals. Even though they knew they were buying a player with a propensity for spending time on the treatment table, it’s quite a poor return.
But the Englishman has an abundance of talent, and his relatively average goals per game ratio can be put down partially to the stop-start nature of his career and also due to playing a significant proportion of his games on the wing. His return could prove to be a positive turning point for Arsenal’s season.
The main reason why Welbeck’s return will be very positive for the Gunners is it gives them another option up front. Alexis Sanchez has scored 12 goals this season, the second highest in the Premier League, from the central strikers position, but for each wonderful game he has like the hat-trick at West Ham, he also can sometimes drift out of games when he sees less of the ball.
Other striking options for Arsenal include Olivier Giroud, who has been in great goalscoring form this season but still looks short of being a title winning number 9, and Lucas Perez, who has yet to really be trusted in the Premier League despite scoring a Champions League hat-trick away at Basel.
Sanchez is currently Arsenal’s best option up front, but his best position lies somewhere between attacking midfield and as the central striker, where he can cause maximum damage with his exceptional dribbling, pace and finishing ability. The same applies to Danny Welbeck.
Welbeck has spent a lot of his career on the wing, mainly due to his pace and excellent technical ability, but his best position is much closer to the central striker role. He has played there for England a number of times and his pace, technique and willingness to get stuck in to aerial battle has seen him accumulate a very handy goalscoring tally. Furthermore, he is an excellent finisher when given the chance.
Adding a versatile player like Welbeck back into the front line could be the answer to Arsenal’s problems. Often, when the Gunners are struggling to break a team down, they have very few alternative tactics they can turn to in order to change the dynamic of the game.
When Sanchez plays up front, everything has to be played into feet. When Giroud plays, you have to nail your colours to the mast of getting crosses in and relying on his strong aerial ability. Welbeck can do both.
Not only can he add a mixture of technical ability and physicality in the air up front, but he and Sanchez could interchange perfectly to switch things up in game. If Sanchez is isolated and seeing little of the ball, Welbeck could go up front, allowing the Chilean to drop deeper and pick the ball up in more space. If Arsenal’s opponents were strong in the air but struggled against pace, Sanchez could move back up front.
They could do this during a game, or vary it depending on opponents and the Gunners would be no weaker for it.
Welbeck may have become a bit of a forgotten man at Arsenal, but his return to the team could provide them with the tactical tweak that they need in order to push on and get closer to a title challenge. With the Englishman back in the side they will be more dangerous, more flexible and should be more able to break down stubborn defences. His return could be very timely indeed.
Featured Image: All rights reserved by Emrah Partal
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