Many Arsenal fans groaned when the undeniably talented but mistake-prone Danny Welbeck signed for the Gunners. But the expert analysts at Squawka.com argue that the newest member of Arsene Wenger's squad has all the attributes he needs to become a stand-out star at The Emirates.
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After selling Robin van Persie to Manchester United in 2012, Arsene Wenger told Sir Alex Ferguson that the Dutchman was an even better player than his old rival realised.
This summer, with Danny Welbeck moving in the opposite direction, his vocal doubters at the Emirates should heed a similarly complimentary message.
The amount of feeling for the Longsight-born forward within certain sections of the support at Old Trafford has never been a secret. Welbeck has always spoken well, run hard and showed a hugely relatable enthusiasm for the shirt. He was a fan on the field, living out the dreams of those who sang his name in the Stretford End, but his cult appeal was fuelled by far more than his beloved, "one of us" status.
Having been part of a generation of youngsters nurtured by United's former skills coach, Rene Meulensteen, Welbeck is a player moulded by the ideas of the Coerver coaching method espoused by the Dutchman. It's an approach which prioritises technique, tactical awareness and the building up of a large repertoire of skills and moves, through which individuals can dominate opponents and games. It's also an academically rigorous approach to player development that is grounded in a certain interpretation of Total Football and the concept of universality.
It may also, one day, bring us world peace. But for now, it's only used in football.
Meulensteen's drills sought to make Welbeck as complete as player as he could be, and the result is an extremely modern forward: able to play wide, drop back and lead the line with clever movement, quick feet and an excellent appreciation of his role and positioning within fluid attacking moves. He is versatile, intelligent, quick, and a collaborative, team-focused player.
He isn't without his flaws or fallible moments when on the field, of course, and can be clumsy at times. However, the negatively edited video compilations that have been circulated to ridicule Arsenal by opposing fans, or bemoan his arrival by unfriendly Gunners, are grossly unfair and misleading. Welbeck is very adept at the fast, one-touch football and give-and-go, one-two interplays that are identifiable features of both Arsenal's penetrative short passing around an opponent's box, and the close-quarters approach play that characterised Ferguson's final years.
In Alexis Sanchez, Welbeck has an ideal attacking partner with whom to weave through defences, tease backlines apart and blast centre-backs to dust with pace, power and good timing. The Chilean's preference to cut inside from the flanks should dovetail well with the former United striker's natural tendency to pull wide and stretch the play before attacking the box; a route of attack that is at least partly inspired by none other than Thierry Henry, who the Mancunian has cited as a player he actively sought to copy and imitate as a youngster.
A fit-again Theo Walcott should also benefit from Welbeck's link-up play and movement, which should create plenty of space for his England team mate to burst into. That, in turn, should bring out the best in Mesut Ozil.
Real Madrid under Jose Mourinho, who set up his wide men and strikers to provide a constant stream of fast-moving targets on the break for his playmaker to aim for. It was a brilliantly ruthless system that shredded teams with Cristiano Ronaldo, Angel Di Maria and Gonzalo Higuain galloping into space, confident that the man in the hole would find them, exposing any back-pedalling defenders and more often than not leaving Real with a numerical advantage and element of surprise from a clinically conceived counter-attack.The German flourished at
Welbeck, Walcott and Sanchez will make for a highly mobile and fleet-footed attacking trio, with the slow-moving aerial platform that is Olivier Giroud sidelined until 2015 with a broken leg. And while Arsenal will miss the Frenchman's power in the air, there's unlikely to be a drop in the team's ability in holding the ball up in advanced positions until offensive reinforcements can arrive.
Having paid his dues on the flanks for United and Sunderland as a wide support striker of sorts, Welbeck is a solid collector and passer of the ball. Last season, he put his new colleagues to shame when it came to the number and percentage of successful passes per game, although he is more of a ball retainer than a chance creator.
More so than ever, strikers must also be industrious when it comes to recovering possession, pressing opponents and working hard for their colleagues, and Welbeck is both a strong and combative player on and off the ball.
Ozil has occasionally come in for criticism from fans for failing to show enough desire and fighting spirit, especially during matches in which his creative efforts fall flat.
Unafraid to challenge opposition players, charge down runners and win back possession, Arsenal fans will have no such complaints when it comes to judging Welbeck's work ethic.
The high-water mark for the forward at United arguably came in the two legs against Madrid in the Champions League in 2013. In the first leg, away at the Bernabeu, he was constantly shifting about the host's back line, unsettling his markers, and selflessly chasing every half-chance and running the channels to keep the threat level high. He was rewarded with a beautifully taken headed goal that secured his team a draw.
In the return leg, Ferguson deployed him in the hole behind Van Persie, where Welbeck's all-round abilities saw him play an intriguingly complex role in which he smothered Xabi Alonso in the defensive phase before sprinting free once United had gained possession of the ball, to become the team's front-line striker, stretching Madrid and enjoying a couple of chances on the break.
A red card received by Nani ultimately undermined this game plan but while the numbers were even between the teams, this dual role looked like it could have won the tie for the Premier League side against Mourinho's Galacticos. Unfortunately for Welbeck, he spurned a number of opportunities that came his way during the match to settle the score. His finishing let him down, however, especially in the two one-on-one opportunities he was granted against Iker Casillas.
Welbeck is often criticised as a scorer of great goals rather than a great goalscorer, but his relative infrequency in finding the onion bag can be partly excused by his lack of regular playing time as a central striker for United.
However, during the injury crisis last winter which saw David Moyes robbed of both Rooney and Van Persie, the academy product appeared to finally show what he could do in front of an opponent's net when given the opportunity.
Between December 15 2013 and January 19 2014, Welbeck played seven games, scored six, made one assist and was Squawka's man of the match on two occasions. He also produced nine interceptions, took the ball past 11 opponents and was successful with 90% of his passing, highlighting the fact that his improved strike rate didn't come at the cost of his other qualities.
Only time will tell whether that spell was a flash in the pan or a sign of things to come up front for the Gunners. But whether he goes on to become a consistent finisher under Wenger, or remains merely a highly sophisticated and effective modern forward, it's hard to see how the Emirates faithful could possibly fail to be won over by "dat guy", Danny Welbeck.
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