Gunning for you: Welbeck has point to prove against Man United
On the surface, it certainly appears as though England attacker Danny Welbeck’s decision to depart boyhood club Manchester United for rivals Arsenal (6/5 to defeat the Red Devils) last summer has paid off.
The Gunners frontman has undoubtedly benefitted from playing time in his favoured position as a centre forward, looking confident, assured and even a little more selfish in front of goal.
However, considering the Red Devils’ problems up front this term, with Robin van Persie yet to hit top gear and marquee loan signing Radamel Falcao suffering injuries, there is a sense of missed opportunity.
United could certainly have prospered from Welbeck’s partnership with skipper Wayne Rooney, that has been so prolific for the Three Lions recently.
Speaking over the international break about leaving Old Trafford behind, the 23-year-old commented: “Over the past year or so, I started to think about what’s best for me because at the time I was playing on the left wing a lot and in a 4-4-2.
“You start to have thoughts but at that time you’re still going to training and I was still giving 100 per cent and giving my all in every single game – that’s just me, I’m not going to change that. But you do start to think about what’s best for you.”
This increasing single-mindedness Welbeck speaks of has been particularly evident in recent England games, with the at times electric attacker often taking risks and speculative shots where previously he wouldn’t.
An amusing example of this came as a bullish Welbeck challenged his own teammate, a particularly disgruntled Rooney, for the ball, as the hungry centre forward sought a hat-trick against Slovenia.
Three Lions forward Welbeck currently boasts a fantastic record of five goals in his last five caps, and appears to have cemented the coveted position up top, in the absence of sidelined Daniel Sturridge.
Welbeck must now turn his attention away from country and back to club, however, as he prepares to face United for the first time since his Old Trafford exit.
On the increasingly competitive stage of the Premier League, it is clear the Red Devils academy product still has aspects of his game that require improvement.
Whilst his link-up play with Alexis Sanchez and Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain has provided some aesthetically pleasing moments of football, the striker has provided just two goals and two assists in his eight league appearances.
If Welbeck wants to continue spearheading an ambitious Arsenal attack, his stats could still do with some polishing, despite his undoubted contribution to the Gunners’ overall game.
A good place to start would be netting against his former club. Coral are offering a magnificent matchday special of 4/1 for Arsenal to win and Welbeck to score (maximum stake £20).
As evidenced against Scotland last time out as he toiled with Shaun Maloney, despite honing his striking skills, the pacy and powerful forward has lost none of his grit.
Always at his all-round best in the big games, searching out the ball and using his speed and strength to great effect by chasing down seemingly lost causes, United (23/10 to beat Arsenal) will need to be wary of his energetic and boisterous influence.
In a twist of fate, it may be the very attributes that were, and still are, used as a stick to beat Welbeck with, that could be the key to downing his former club. Van Persie, meanwhile, is 6/4 to net anytime at his old stomping ground.