After last season, it was clear to anyone watching that Arsenal needed a new striker to provide that lethal touch up front. Since the departure of the prolific Robin van Persie to Manchester United, Arsenal have struggled to convert their opportunities in front of goal. A hardworking midfield can only get you so far, and despite the best efforts of players like Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil in the first half of the previous season, a few injuries were all it took to derail Arsenal’s title challenge.
And this season has gotten off to an even more inauspicious start, with a long term injury sidelining Olivier Giroud for a few months. That left the young Yaya Sanogo and new signing Alexis Sanchez as the main frontline options. While one is still too raw and inexperienced in front of goal, the other loses some of his natural skill and movement when played down the center. While Sanchez is still a lethal outlet, he seems to do much better when cutting in from out wide.
Thus, when Arsene Wenger finally decided to splash the cash on outbound England frontman Danny Welbeck, it was seen as a natural move, both to add depth to the squad and to quell the dissent among the ranks of Arsenal fans. But is Welbeck really the right man for the job?
Yesterday’s press conference by Louis van Gaal would lead us to think otherwise. While introducing new signings Radamel Falcao and Daley Blind, he was characteristically blunt when asked about Welbeck. He stated that the forward was not prolific enough in his opinion to earn a place in the United squad and thus letting him go was the right thing to do.
He played three seasons at Manchester United, but he doesn’t have the record of a Rooney or van Persie.
But is comparing the youngster to those two greats a fair way to measure his skill? Rooney and van Persie are experienced veterans of both club and international competition, and as such Welbeck, a relative newcomer, can hardly be expected to match them. And it is not as if the youngster has no skills of his own; his performance at the 2012 Euros, and, more recently, in the Euro Qualifier against Switzerland were both eyecatching performances, the brace he scored in the latter game points at a bright future for the youngster at Arsenal.
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With one of the big games of the season coming up tomorrow, there is a large chance that Welbeck will be handed a start against defending champions City. A good performance then will be sure to earn him the respect of the Arsenal crowd, and a goal could propel him into the status of hero.