More central role looks tailor-made for confident Danny Welbeck
Striker looking forward to taking on Chelsea following hat-trick against Galatasaray
Arsenal’s Danny Welbeck celebrates scoring his third goal against Galatasaray during the Champions League victory at the Emirates. Photo: Gerry Penny/EPA
Surging on to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s weighted pass, he got there before goalkeeper Fernando Muslera and knew then that he needed to execute a delicately dinked finish. The Emirates Stadium held its breath and the mind went back to the big moment of Welbeck’s Arsenal debut when he got himself into a similar situation against Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart. The striker’s technique looked perfect, the chip arched over Hart and the ball headed for the far corner. Except that it hit the post and bounced out.
Against Galatasaray, it was always going to go in. It was Welbeck’s night, when everything he did drew appreciative murmurs, from the pace, power and sharp movement that unnerved the Galatasaray back-line to the selfless tracking back. But when he found himself on the right side of those excruciatingly fine margins in front of goal, the death-or-glory territory of the top striker, it was difficult to ignore the part that confidence had played.
Nobody should be getting too carried away because Welbeck’s fledging Arsenal career has also featured the one-on-one miss at Borussia Dortmund when the score was 0-0 and the air-shot in front of goal against Tottenham Hotspur as his team trailed 1-0 on Saturday.
Mercifully for Welbeck, Oxlade-Chamberlain was on hand to equalise from the loose ball. But Welbeck knows that one or two costly misses will not see him dropped or shunted out to the wing and he has been able to keep getting into the right areas. He talked after the Galatasaray victory about rhythm, about growing from game to game, and the adage about also having the confidence to miss appeared to resonate.
At Manchester United, the club he supported and where he rose up through the ranks, there were always higher-profile strikers ahead of him.
Welbeck could never enjoy a sustained run in his favoured central role at Old Trafford but fate has conspired to construct the dream platform for him at Arsenal.
Olivier Giroud, the club’s previous first-choice centre-forward, is out until the new year with a fractured tibia and any leader of the Arsenal line is going to get chances, given the creative midfield quality around him.
“I’m really looking forward to building on these performances. It’s good to play with midfielders of this calibre and they are only going to create chances.”
Welbeck has been compared to Thierry Henry but perhaps the better comparison is to Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge. He struggled at Manchester City and Chelsea, when he was often shoe-horned in as a wide attacker but has blossomed as a central striker at Liverpool.
Arsenal go to Chelsea in the Premier League on Sunday – and Welbeck is eager to rise to them. “We’re going to have to prepare physically, mentally and tactically very well for Sunday,” he said. “But we have got a good camaraderie, and we are all really looking forward to it – we are really confident.”