Arsene Wenger has leapt to the defence of Danny Welbeck ahead of the striker’s return to Manchester United on Monday for the first time since leaving the club in a £16m deadline day move last August.
The 24-year-old striker suffered a thigh injury in January and did not start either of Arsenal’s last two matches, leading to suggestions he could become marginalised in the same way he was at United.
Welbeck, whose place in the starting line-up is not guaranteed for the FA Cup quarter-final clash at Old Trafford, has scored seven goals in 26 games for Arsenal and Wenger said: “Danny puts a big effort in, he plays very well for me and is an exceptional player who will have a great future here.
“I am convinced the subject is raised because he is a former United player. I am very, very happy that I bought him. He’s one of the players who has played the most games for us but not in the last couple of games.
“You can make an individual debate on every single player but what is important is that you have moments in the season where some players play a bit less.
“Most of the time it’s up front because not every single player can play every game in the biggest part of the season. You have a player like [Olivier] Giroud who is playing at the moment but he missed four months. During that period, Welbeck played every game.”
QPR 1 Arsenal 2 player ratings
QPR 1 Arsenal 2 player ratings
1/22 Rob Green 6
Put under pressure much more in the second half. Difficult to criticise him for the two Arsenal. If it wasn’t for him the difference between the sides would have been greater. A strong save to deny Ozil late on.
2/22 Suk-Young Yun 5
A danger for Bellerin in the early stages of the game but the Arsenal right back soon worked out what he was trying to do - take advantage of the overlap. Aimless balls forward meant the opposition were able to regroup quickly.
3/22 Nedum Onuoha 5
Clashed heads with Caulker towards the end of the first half. He was replaced by Clint Hill minutes before half-time due to injury.
4/22 Steven Caulker 5
Effective at defending Arsenal corners. Though he was sloppy when put under pressure by Sanchez and Giroud.
5/22 Darnell Furlong 5
Similar to Yun, he chose to push forward and attack the right flank. Very good range of passing too. Defensively, though, he was poor. That was proven when Sanchez easily skipped past him before scoring Arsenal’s second.
6/22 Matt Phillips 7
A constant threat on the right side of the QPR midfield. His powerful volley from 25 yards on the hour would have been a contender for goal of the season had it crashed into Ospina’s net. Provided the assist for Austin’s goal.
7/22 Karl Henry 4
Often went missing in midfield. Too many misplaced passes from him meant QPR’s attack broke down quickly.
8/22 Sandro 6
Did well on his return back from a knee injury. Looked to progress play where possible and fed Austin particularly well. Tired in the second half and was replaced by Niko Kranjcar on 56 minutes.
9/22 Junior Hoilett 7
Did well to track back and defend. Stayed close to Rosicky. Always a threat when he got near the Gunners’ penalty area. He was replaced by Mauricio Isla on 73 minutes.
10/22 Charlie Austin 7
Threatened the Arsenal defence early on. He wasn’t afraid to shoot either. His goal late on that gave QPR brief hope of getting a point was brilliant.
11/22 Bobby Zamora 6
Demonstrated why he can still make an impact in the Premier League even if he did start to tire shortly after half-time.
12/22 David Ospina 6
Relatively comfortable evening. Austin’s shots on target were in the centre of his goal and didn’t trouble the goalkeeper. Beaten by a beautiful effort by the striker - may have done a little better.
13/22 Hector Bellerin 6
Got the better of Yun on the left side of the QPR defence numerous times. He was allowed plenty of space on the overlap but his final ball was often poor.
14/22 Per Mertesacker 6
Back in central defence after he was on the substitutes’ bench against Everton. He did well against the physical Zamora.
15/22 Gabriel Paulista 5
Struggled with the presence of Zamora. He was replaced on 36 minutes by Laurent Koscielny due to injury.
16/22 Kieran Gibbs 7
Linked up very well with Sanchez in the second half. His penetrating runs down the left made it difficult for Furlong.
17/22 Tomas Rosicky 6
Misplaced pass. Marked well by Hoilett. His creativity was stifled in the first half but in the second he found a slightly better range of passing.
2015 Getty Images
18/22 Francis Coquelin 6
His first match since sustaining a broken nose in the home win against Everton. The game seemed to bypass him at times.
19/22 Santi Cazorla 7
His usual skillful self. He started alongside Coquelin in the deep-lying playmaker position but it was only when he drove forward that he was effective.
20/22 Mesut Ozil 7
Started the attack that led to Arsenal’s opening goal. Positioned behind Giroud, the German became more important as the game wore on.
21/22 Olivier Giroud 7
Not particularly convincing in the first half. He chose more often than not to fire aimlessly from outside the area. That changed in the second half. His goal set Arsenal on their way.
22/22 Alexis Sanchez 8
More of a threat in the second half as he started to cut in from the left. Roamed all over Arsenal’s attack. He should have scored when he was one-on-one with Green. Redeemed himself when he doubled his side’s lead on 70 minutes after skillful play.
Wenger insists Arsenal’s terrible record at United will count for nothing when the teams clash on Monday. The Gunners have not won at the ‘Theatre of Dreams’ since September 2006, when Emmanuel Adebayor’s late strike secured a 1-0 win.
Since then, United have won nine out of 10 meetings between the sides at home — drawing the other 0-0 — including an 8-2 hammering in 2011 and a 4-0 defeat in their last FA Cup tie there, six years ago.
Wenger said: “I don’t believe too much in history, I just believe in the performance on the day. We are doing very well away from home.
“The size of the pitch is the same everywhere, it’s down to how much effort we put in to win the game. It is a special intensity because it is between two teams who have a chance to win this competition. Both teams will think ‘if we get over this hurdle, we have a good opportunity to win the competition’.”
Louis van Gaal has been criticised for United’s staccato playing style, despite a run of just two defeats from 22 games, as they cling on to a place in the top four, just behind Arsenal.
Wenger has sympathy for his opposite number’s claim that he needs time to adjust to English football and he reflected that it was easier for him to settle when joining Arsenal in 1996 because the team were more stable.
“The rule is every day you have to criticise somebody or you don’t sleep well overnight,” said Wenger.
“Because we are in a public job, we have to accept that. You adapt first to your club, to your team, and after that the players who play for you are used to playing in the League. It’s less a problem of adapting to the League, it’s more an adaptation to the style of play, to the quality of the players.”
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