There was a time in my career when an away game at Arsenal was arguably the biggest match of the season. Not in the latter years. The last time Arsenal beat Manchester United was May 2011 and, over the course of the last 10 years, Arsène Wenger’s team have fallen away as title challengers. Now Arsenal are sixth, United are seventh and both are struggling to challenge at the very top of the table.
Much will be made of Danny Welbeck’s first game against the club at which he grew up. The immediate assumption will be that Danny is nurturing some grievance against United at being sold and will want to prove a point. I don’t see it that way. Danny will want to play well because he would want to anyway, regardless of the opposition, and from what I see and hear he is very happy at Arsenal and with his move to London.
Sometimes, a move comes along at just the right time in the career of a footballer. Danny is a quiet lad and I get the impression he is very content at Arsenal. I don’t see there being a lot of resentment at the way he was treated by United. It has worked out quite well for him.
Danny has great physical strength and pace. However, it is not in his nature to knock defenders about. If I had his kind of physique as a player that is exactly what I would have done, but Danny is different. He seems more suited, temperamentally, to the tiki-taka passing game that Arsenal like to play around the edge of their opponents’ area. I think they could use his pace and power more.
In terms of United, they miss the energy that Danny once gave them in attack. My view has not changed: he should not have been sold and recently I have felt that United have looked a bit pedestrian going forward. As a United fan I am a little concerned for them going into Saturday's game.
Aside from Michael Carrick at his very best, United lack a central midfielder capable of linking play and getting the best out of their forwards. They need that individual who can pass the ball forward, play one-twos and bring the strikers into the game. That kind of playmaker – a Cesc Fabregas, Luka Modric or Toni Kroos – is vital to any side. They are the brains of the team and without them the forwards can struggle.Reuse content