It looked like it would be another typical deadline day trauma for us. We hadn’t signed anyone to replace Thomas Vermaelen and an enforcer needed for our midfield hadn’t coughed in front of our medical team either. To make things worse, Manchester United snapped Radamel Falcao, probably the most desired striker among Gooners. The fact Arsene Wenger decided to spend the day at some charity match in Rome added fuel to our frustrations.
Then, it happened. In injury-time of deadline day we scored a goal that might have looked like a consolation than a match-winner at first glance. Danny Welbeck, a 23-year-old English striker, signed for Arsenal from bitter rivals Manchester United. Here is a good article about both ends of Welbeck-mania. I would like to make a typical, er, Josif-esque article about Welbeck through some key pointers.
1.Danny has to become Daniel…
It’s a pretty clear one. Danny is a hypocorism for Daniel. Our Danny is still a young lad but he has to man up very soon and grow from Danny to Daniel. At the age of 23, he has to prove the quality that has drawn the attention of two the most successful managers of the Premiership-era and add consistency to his game. Hopefully he will get more playing time to perform and show why Gary Neville and Paul Scholes were devastated with his departure from United.
2….but not necessarily Daniel Sturridge because he IS NOT Daniel Sturridge!
If there is anything that annoys me about Danny Welbeck, it’s his comparison with Daniel Sturridge. The Liverpool striker has gone through renaissance since leaving Chelsea and some people expect the same from Welbeck at Arsenal. Well, forget about that comparison. Sturridge has a spark of a genius that can bamboozle through opponents’ defence and score a spectacular goal but it’s probably the same spark that has made him look like a loose cannon during his spell at Chelsea. He has a huge ego (then again, all big strikers have that) that has to be managed carefully – hence his strong hunger for goals. Can you imagine what he would have done had Alex Ferguson ordered him to do the job on Xabi Alonso like he had ordered Welbeck 18 months ago? Yeah, me neither.
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Welbeck, on the other hand, looks like a fine young gentleman, the one that personifies values of current Arsenal players, one that does what his manager asks him to do but not before he politely replies: “Yes, sir, I will.” Welbeck is neither a player that you’d expect to use his technique to beat his marker nor a world-class finisher. He is, however, strong, quick and can score a goal while doing a lot of useful tactical things for his team.
In a way, if I were in a mood to make a comparison between Welbeck and some prolific striker, it would be Andrew Andy Cole (who had played for both Arsenal and Manchester United) who had been disputed before he became a goal-scoring machine that scored a winning goal in the Champions’ League semifinals against Juventus in 1998-99. Why wouldn’t Daniel Danny Welbeck do the same for Arsenal?
3.The British Core becomes stronger.
The fact we have spent 32 million pounds on two English players this season says a lot about our long-term intentions. Arsene Wenger didn’t joke when he said in a press-conference that he would make a good national team for England in a few years. With Chambers and Gibbs in the defence and Wilshere in the middle of the pitch, England have every reason to wish Arsenal all the best. And, let’s not forget about Carl Jenkinson who is currently on loan at West Ham. Of course, let’s not forget our favourite Welshman who has been the best Arsenal player for the last 13 months – Aaron Ramsey – who turns the English Core into British.
Welbeck is another piece of the puzzle and perhaps the one that both Arsenal and England have missed – a pacey central forward with immense work-rate who will co-operate with pacey wingers like Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain on both club and international level. However, speaking of English strikers…
4.Welbeck has a curse to break.
No, I’m not talking about the No. 23 on his shirt.
Arsene Wenger has managed many great strikers since 1996. Some of them were great – Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp are arguably the best players in Arsenal history, Robin van Persie had played for 18 months between 2010 and 2012 on a world-class level, Emmanuel Adebayor had an exciting campaign in 2007-08, Nicolas Anelka was a teenager when he was destroying defenders in England between 1997 and 1999 while Nwankwo Kanu and Sylvain Wiltord scored a lot of important goals in our brilliant seasons of 2001-02 and 2003-04.
However, none of these strikers were English. In fact, Ian Wright and Francis Jeffers have been the only Arsenal English strikers in the Wenger-era before Welbeck signed. Wright and Wenger haven’t exactly exchanged their BFF-cards and Jeffers turned out to be one of the worst Wenger purchases.
Now, some might say that Theo Walcott is an English striker but he has been used as a winger most of the time. Provided that Welbeck gets a chance to lead our attack, he might become the first English striker to actually flourish under Wenger.
5.Welbeck can score a load of goals…
Welbeck’s goal-scoring record at Manchester United isn’t something that strikes fear into opponents or hope into our souls but it’s not like he had either great service or enough playing time to use his skills properly. At Arsenal he should get both – Mesut Özil, Santi Cazorla and Tomas Rosicky would turn Dennis Bergkamp’s statue outside Emirates stadium into a goal-scoring machine.
I remember when I saw Welbeck for the first time – he played for Sunderland against us at the Emirates and nearly took all three points in the last ten minutes – he used his strength and speed to beat Djourou and sent a powerful low shot that Szczesny deflected to a corner.
In today’s football, especially in England, pace, strength and intelligence are three out of the four most important qualities (the fourth is technique) and that’s why I have high hopes for Welbeck’s spell at Arsenal.
6….but he can turn out to be the next Gervinho.
Remember the last time when we had a player with pace, immense work-rate, ability to run at a defence and poor shooting technique who could play either as a winger or as a lone striker? Yes, that player was Gervinho. The Ivorian had two more problems though: his decisions were beyond poor and his composure usually let him down. The opening goal Welbeck scored against Switzerland reminded me of Gervinho’s shots.
If Welbeck goes through a long barren period, he’ll probably have fans against him and will be labelled as a flop. That’s where consistency comes in – he needs a lot of playing time in one position in the team, good passes into space from his team-mates and composure to finish the opponents.
7.He might become our most important defender.
I’ve already mentioned his marking of Xabi Alonso in the 2012-13 Champions’ League tie. His work-rate and ability to put pressure on the opponents can relieve the pressure out of our central midfielders and perhaps prolong Mikel Arteta’s career. In a way, Welbeck can be a full package – a central defender, a defensive midfielder and a striker that Arsenal fans wanted from Arsenal Wenger during the transfer window.
8.The way he reacts to Louis Van Gaal’s words will say a lot about his character.
Louis Van Gaal didn’t use euphemisms to justify his decision to sell Welbeck to Arsenal. After those words from the Dutchman, Welbeck should show mental strength and shove those words down Van Gaal’s throat with a lot of goals in the forthcoming period.
Time will tell whether Daniel Danny Welbeck will make an impact at Arsenal but in any case..
Welcome to the home of great football, Danny, and have a nice time here!