Does Danny Welbeck deserve a new contract at Arsenal?

Just as it seemed Danny Welbeck was starting to find his place in Unai Emery’s Arsenal team, disaster struck, just as it has so many times for the forward over the course of his career at the Emirates Stadium. It was during a Europa League game against Sporting Lisbon in November that Welbeck suffered an ankle injury that would effectively end his season before it had even got going.

Indeed, this was an all too familiar tale for Welbeck. Since arriving at Arsenal from Manchester United nearly five years ago, he has missed more games through injury than he has been available for. Even still, Welbeck has managed to make over 100 appearances for the Gunners, becoming something of a fans favourite, even if his lack of finishing instinct and cutting edge frustrates from time to time.


At the time of his latest injury speculation was starting to build that Welbeck could be on his way out of Arsenal. That a good run of form could convince Crystal Palace, who were in the market for a striker in the January transfer window, into making a move for the England international. Now, however, the 28-year-old’s contract is up at the end of the season and his future is in doubt.

That was until recent reports claiming Arsenal could, if the terms were right, offer Welbeck a new contract. On the face of things, this wouldn’t be a wise move. Welbeck’s injury troubles make him unreliable. However, he brings something different to the table. He gives Arsenal an option they don’t otherwise have. He increases their attacking diversity.

Welbeck isn’t a conventional frontman. He isn’t one to lead the line on his own. Instead, he is a perfect foil for a central goalscorer. Look at the role he played at Manchester United, particularly in the 2012/13 season, when Sir Alex Ferguson used Welbeck as a supporting striker alongside Robin Van Persie. Or the role he played alongside Wayne Rooney for England. It’s an international level where Welbeck has often found his best form.

The 28-year-old is a master at creating space for others and so there’s logic to the notion that he could operate as part of a front three alongside Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette. While it would be foolish to pin too many hopes to Welbeck, it might be worthwhile keeping him around for the time being.

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Danny Welbeck injury is a blow to Unai Emery’s Arsenal

There are few players in football who can draw on as much goodwill as Danny Welbeck can. So when the Arsenal forward suffered a bad injury, a potential broken ankle, in Thursday night’s Europa League draw against Sporting Lisbon, there was an outpouring of sympathy. There aren’t many who hold a grudge against Welbeck.

This is down to a number of things – his character and personality, but also the way he is as a footballer. Welbeck has always been the selfless type, almost to his detriment. His critics claim that the 27-year-old should show more of a cutting edge in the final third of the pitch, that he needs to up his goal tally.


But the brilliance of Welbeck has always been misunderstood. Sir Alex Ferguson got it and so too, it seems, does Unai Emery. It’s unfair to class Welbeck as a centre forward because the conventional definition of that term doesn’t quite describe his role. He stretches the pitch, creates space for others and generally makes teams more difficult to defend against.

Emery is a coach who understands space and how to make best use of it on a football pitch. Welbeck might not have been an automatic first team starter over the opening few weeks and months of the season, but he was becoming a useful member of the Arsenal squad. His injury, which could feasibly rule him out for the rest of the campaign, comes as a blow at a crucial time.

Arsenal are still growing and learning as a team under their new manager, and great progress has been made since the summer. The Gunners cannot be classed as title challengers, but last week’s 1-1 draw against Liverpool underlined their development with the former Paris Saint-Germain and Sevilla coach at the helm.

Relationships are growing all over the pitch – between Granit Xhaka and Matteo Guendouzi in midfield, between Mesut Ozil and Xhaka too and between Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette in attack. Welbeck was starting to build relationships of his own, demonstrated by his performances in the Europa League so far this season.

At a personal level, this injury is a cruel blow for Welbeck. There had been rumours this past week that the forward could look to leave the Emirates Stadium this January in the search of regular, first team football. Crystal Palace had been linked. Now, those hopes have been dashed, at least for the time being.

Luck has never been on Welbeck’s side. Injuries have been an issue for him for years, going all the way back to his Man Utd days, but this is a new level cruelty. The cruelty isn’t just for Welbeck, though, but for Arsenal, who were only just starting to learn how to get the best from the forward.

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Spain may have turned a corner under Enrique

spainscoreSpain began their UEFA Nations League campaign with an impressive 2-1 win against Gareth Southgate’s England at Wembley, indicating they may have just turned a corner since their turbulent World Cup campaign. The appointment of Luis Enrique as Julen Lopetegui’s permanent replacement was seen by many as a positive move towards getting the Spaniards back to their best after a disappointing campaign in Russia this summer. Lopetegui was sacked just days before Spain’s first game in the tournament and while stand-in Fernando Hierro deserves credit for leading the nation to the tournament in such difficult circumstances he did not seem to be the right man for the job, hence Enrique’s appointment.

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Is Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s Arsenal place under pressure?

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Alexandre Lacazette

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang appeared to have cemented his place as Arsenal’s main striker following his club-record £56 million move to the Emirates Stadium from Borussia Dortmund in January.

The Gabon international was one of the few positives in the final months of the Arsene Wenger era, immediately showing that he can adapt to English football by scoring 10 goals in 13 Premier League matches between February and May.

This season, however, it has been a different story for the former Saint-Etienne man.

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EPL Best XI – Mo Salah stars again

Roberto Firmino Mo Salah

The third weekend of the 2018-19 Premier League season saw Liverpool, Chelsea and Watford continue their winning starts to the new campaign, while Manchester City were held to a 1-1 draw by newly promoted Wolves. But which players stood out to make the EPL Best XI of the Weekend?

GK: Alisson, Liverpool – seven points
With three clean sheets from three matches, Alisson couldn’t have had a better start to life as Liverpool goalkeeper. The Brazilian picked up seven points this weekend, taking his tally for the season to a very impressive 21 points.

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Can Andy Carroll still do a job for England?

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West Ham fans have been through the wringer a few times this season, and they’ll always give a completely honest and unbiased assessment of their team and club if asked.

To a man, they all still rate Andy Carroll, and so do the club.

Injuries have played a huge part in his lack of game time this season, and theoretically he needs to have a full pre-season to get back to somewhere approaching his best form.

But there’s no denying that he offers something that no other England striker does.

His presence and physicality allow him to dominate most opponents, particularly aerially, and as he’s shown on a few occasions, he still knows where the goal is.

To this point, he’s not really been in the England conversation, but he has to be given due consideration.

Harry Kane is in a league of his own, so there’s no suggestion he’s a replacement. Far from it in fact.

Ditto the other front men that may be under Gareth Southgate’s microscope. The candidacies of Jamie Vardy, Marcus Rashford, Danny Welbeck, Raheem Sterling and Jermain Defoe et al can’t be ignored.

And yet, they all offer much the same in terms of attacking threat. Reasonable pace and an eye for goal.

Nothing wrong with that of course, but when a game is getting away from you and something different is needed, having a powerful ‘old school’ No.9 at your disposal as an alternative could tip the scales.

Three goals in his seven appearances is a ratio that affords him the courtesy of having Southgate or one of his staff at least ‘take a look.’

Even if he were to be an impact sub, there’s enough about his natural game, if he stays fit, to give him a spot in the squad.

Remember, Theo Walcott was taken to a World Cup and then not played. Even if Carroll only had 10 minutes at the end of each match, he could be the game changer.

Kane will often be ploughing a lone furrow and has the nous and the form to be England’s talisman, but why not go route one occasionally? Get the midfield pushing up and ready for the inevitable knock downs.

It won’t be pretty and almost certainly won’t curry favour with those who prefer a more beautiful game.

But let’s be clear. Given the choice of aesthetically pleasing football or a style – when needed – that brings results, surely the most pragmatic style is the right choice?

England don’t have to be ‘pretty’ nor ‘inventive’ to win the fans over.

If back to basics works, even occasionally, England are cutting their nose off to spite their face if they don’t take advantage.

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EPL Attacker Review – Wonderful Welbeck, Kane the Corker and Blundering Benteke


If you are a striker who is on the books at Man United, with some first team experience, and a club like Arsenal come along, there is certainly a decision to be made. In the case of Danny Welbeck, it seemed an easy one. Continue reading

Should Arsene Wenger drop Olivier Giroud for Arsenal’s weekend clash with Manchester United?


Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is forced into making one change from his attack ahead of Sunday’s Premier League clash with Manchester United due to the knee injury suffered by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, but he may be considering another shakeup due to the poor form of striker Olivier Giroud.

The French international has gone eight games in all competitions without a goal for the Londoners, and it’s seen Arsenal scoring only six times and registering three wins. Wenger has been outspoken in his criticism for his side missing so many chances in games, and ahead of a crucial league clash he may consider an alternate option to spearhead the attack.

Danny Welbeck has only recent returned from a lengthy injury layout, but he’s impressed in the game time afforded to him in the Premier League and Champions League this season. Arsene Wenger has been full of praise, and doesn’t have many other choices but the England international to start against his former side in truth.

Theo Walcott is expected to come in for Oxlade-Chamberlain out wide, and Welbeck is the only natural centre-forward in the squad to replace Giroud. While still Arsenal’s top scorer in the Premier League this season with 12 goals in 20 starts, his barren run is costing them results in games. Welbeck deserves his chance if he’s deemed fit enough to start, as Arsenal can’t afford to be shut out on Sunday.

Supporters want to see Welbeck come up against his old club, given the last time he faced off with Manchester United it was in the FA Cup quarter-finals and he scored the winning goal to send Arsenal into the semis. Nevertheless, Wenger is still unsure the 25-year-old is ready to start this weekend.

“It is not the case that it does not look like he has been away. People are quick to make assessments like that. He has been out for a while, we still need to be cautious with him. I haven’t picked my team yet for Sunday. I cannot tell you that now at the moment. He is still in the squad and he is not completely over his knee problem. He has done really well and is very fit. I have to analyse that,” said the Arsenal manager.

Olivier Giroud has scored only one goal past Manchester United in seven meetings, so does Danny Welbeck deserve his chance in the attack on Sunday? Should Giroud’s goal drought see him making way for the resurgent Englishman?