Tempered opinions on signing Danny Welbeck


I am happy to report that I have officially calmed down in the wake of Arsenal signing Danny Welbeck.  My blood pressure is stable, I did not have a run in with a coronary, and I did not drink myself into a drunken catatonic state (and if I did, I certainly do not remember any of it).  While I may not be thrilled with the signing, a cooler head has finally prevailed…sort of.

The former Manchester United squad player gave his first interview with the club after completing his move to north London, and he could not seem more ecstatic with the goings on.  After having watched the interview twice, I will say two things about it and move on; 1. he seems thrilled to be at a club that (seemingly) is giving him a fresh chance at his career, and 2. there is no way that he pictured himself playing for the club on any previous occasion.

Does Danny Welbeck come to the club truly believing in it, or was it all just a move to restore his career and chances for the national team? (image courtesy of Arsenal’s official Facebook page)

Listen, Danny Welbeck was at United since the age of eight, and lived and breathed that club – he didn’t truly want to come here, he just wanted to go to a club that offered Champions League football (which is why he gave Tottenham the cold shoulder) and a better chance to get a run in the side; it just so happens that our style of play (wait, do we have one at current?) suits him.  Anyone who thinks otherwise is completely fooling themselves – ideally, he’d rather still be at Old Trafford.

That said, when looking at the type of player he is in a more calm manner and without my blood boiling, he does in fact suit the style we all hope Arsene Wenger will bring this season given the players we have on the books.  Welbeck came through United as a center-forward, but has all of his playing experience for both club and country out wide on the left; this presents options, but also concerns at the same time.

Welbeck has been brought to the club to hopefully solve our striker issues while giving us goal scoring options, but Wenger has previously discussed that he feels Sanchez can do a wonderful job through the middle – does this mean Welbeck was brought here to fill in on the left? Is he only still presenting us with an option coming off the bench? Will Wenger actually use him as a center-forward in the end?

With Theo Walcott near a return to full fitness and most likely immediate first-team duties, one must surely think that Arsenal’s best front three options in a 4-3-3 would be Sanchez/Welbeck/Walcott, but it could also be Chamberlain/Sanchez/Walcott, or Welbeck/Sanchez/Walcott – the point here is, Welbeck still has plenty of competition here with established players at the club, and then Sanchez; all that, and I did not even take into account Santi Cazorla or Joel Campbell.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is just one of a few players Welbeck my end up competing for time with; if Chambo struggles to get a game, surely Welbeck will as well

With Mesut Ozil and Cazorla in the first-team, and any other way of using them other than in a 4-2-3-1 being absolutely unthinkable, you then have to wonder what the preferred selection is hen you consider them in the equation as well; is it Sanchez up front with Welbeck/Ozil/Walcott, Welbeck up front with Sanchez/Ozil/Walcott, Sanchez up front with Chamberlain/Ozil/Walcott, or even Sanchez up front with Cazorla/Ozil/Walcott?

Again, this all highlights options and the potential for tactical flexibility, but when was the last time Wenger was anything near a tactically flexible manager? He is more likely to use Ozil as a left midfielder and Cazorla as a central midfielder than actually use the pieces we have in a proper fashion.

I’ve got two more questions for you (well, one really); is Danny Welbeck actually better than Chamberlain or even Campbell (I’ve not considered Lukas Podolski here, as he’s more likely to see time at a charity event than minutes on the pitch)?  No one works harder than Chambo for the club, he has excellent technical ability, bags of pace and has a penchant for coming into a match and turning it on its head in our favor, but yet somehow Le Prof will not trust him to get the job done for reasons unknown.

As for Campbell, the Costa Rican international was kept from being loaned out again this summer after a brilliant showing in the World Cup and having impressed at Olympiakos both domestically and in the Champions League (this stunner against United will come to mind surely), but, like Chamberlain, Wenger will not trust the player – this has caused those in his camp to pick up their weapons and ask questions as to why, if he is not being used or trusted, was a move to Benfica blocked.

In truth, many must realize that, while it’s nice to take a player off our rivals (though you must question if United would really let a player of true quality go to their rivals; something they’ve never done), if Welbeck was even necessary?  He may have promise and he may be young, but when will we stop being a club that routinely brings in promising young players, but then wonders why it cannot truly challenge the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea and now Liverpool for Premier League supremacy.

Mario Balotelli is just one example in a long list of strikers that Wenger could have been in for this summer, and it sheds light on the clubs ambition, or lack there of (image courtesy of Liverpool’s official Facebook page)

I mentioned it in a piece yesterday, that for the money spent on Welbeck, we could have gotten any number of already established strikers that were on the market (and no I am not talking about Falcao).  While Welbeck does have plenty of Premier League experience, he only has 20 goals in over 90 top-flight matches, and only scored one goal in United’s title winning side two years ago – was this actually money well spent on a player who is too similar to players we actually already have at the club?

As an Arsenal supporter through and through for twenty years, I will get behind the player the best I can.  Welbeck does have talent, and does have promise, but we are in a position right now where we needed more than that.  I do hope he comes good, scores goals and rubs it in the face of his detractors, myself included.

However, I have begun to ask myself if these are really the transfer dealings of a club that has actual ambitions of winning the league and making waves in Europe – perhaps you should begin to ask yourselves that same question.  At least we can all agree that he is (hopefully) better than Yaya Sanogo.