Wenger keeping faith in Welbeck

Premier League

Wenger keeping faith in Welbeck

Around 15 years ago Arsene Wenger famously moulded Thierry Henry into a man often forced to play out wide into the complete out-and-out striker. It may be too early to suggest he is doing a similar job with Danny Welbeck, but the 23-year-old has certainly given him enough reasons for optimism.

The €20m signing from Manchester United was immense as Arsenal saw off Aston Villa with three goals in a three minute and 12 second period of the first-half. Welbeck scored one, his first goal for the club, and made one and now looks set to make the number 9 role his own.

“Henry is a good act to follow, you know,” said Wenger. “I think he has an interesting potential and let’s see how he develops. He has a good mentality, good physical potential, good technical potential, he contributes to our team play because he doesn’t lose the ball up front, important qualities.

“Maybe playing in a wide role helped him. When you play in different positions you learn always. I like a striker who gives the ball when he has to give the ball and scores when he can score. The fact he can provide and can score like today is very important.

“The fact as well that in training he took his chances very well. So I think it is not a question of potential it is more a nervous problem maybe because in training he scores goals like a real striker. He is a good finisher. I think as well he has played at United in the position wide for the last two or three years, never through the middle. Then you lose a little bit that instinct to score. You need to always be in the middle and wait for your chance to kill the opponent. On the flank you have less of that responsibility.

“When you play on the flank you have to cross the ball for someone to score. When you play in the middle someone has to cross the ball for you to score. It is a different job.”

If this was the introduction of Welbeck as a genuine Arsenal talent after two goalless games, this was the renaissance of Mesut Ozil. The out of form German moved to the number 10 spot and immediately linked up superbly with Welbeck. Ozil has never really come of age at Arsenal but Wenger’s decision to make the cosmetic changes could well work. It is a master tactician at work.

Certainly on a mild autumnal afternoon at Villa Park, Ozil and Welbeck’s understanding ensured the hosts’ hopes of keeping their unbeaten league start intact evaporated quickly.

In the 33rd minute, Welbeck’s vision put Ozil through and he made no mistake while a minute and 20 seconds later it was Welbeck who slammed home from close range following the German’s cross from the left.

“Leading up to this game we had not had many training session together,” said Welbeck. “Obviously when I signed I was away on international duty. I think once I carry on training much more and get into the matches I will develop a much better understanding with the players.

“Obviously Mesut is a technician in those sort of areas but it is not only Mesut who can do those sort of things for Arsenal. We have got plenty of other midfielders in the team who can also do that. It’s not just Mesut but everyone involved in Arsenal who knows how to play football.”

Aston Villa, who conceded a third on 36 minutes as Aly Cissokho slotted Kieran Gibbs’ cross into his own net, could have been able to fill the waiting room of a doctor’s surgery though. Six players went down with a sickness bug – Nathan Baker, Darren Bent and Ashley Westwood pulled out, Andreas Weimann went off at the break while Fabian Delph and Brad Guzan had been struggling all week.

“We’re looking at shutting the training ground until Tuesday,” said manager Paul Lambert. “I thought we might have got away with it but people seem to be dropping all the time. I’m not a medical person. I’ve not had anything as bad as this before. “It was a sickness and diarrhoea bug going around. It’s just mother-nature. I couldn’t fault lads for their effort.”

ASTON VILLA (4-5-1): Guzan 6; Hutton 6, Senderos 6, Clark 5, Cissokho 5; Weimann 6 (Grealish 46, 6), Sanchez 6 (Bacuna (86th), Cleverley 7, Delph 7, Richardson 6 (N’Zogbia 77); Agbonlahor 6.

ARSENAL (4-5-1): Szczesny 6; Chambers 6, Mertesacker 7, Koscielny 7, Gibbs 7; Oxlade-Chamberlain 7 (Rosicky 78), Arteta 7, Ramsey 7 (Wilshere 78), Ozil 8, Cazorla 6; Welbeck 8 (Podolski 78).

Ref: Mike Jones

Att: 40,013

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