Danny Welbeck joins Arsenal: Should Arsene Wenger select deadline day signing Welbeck or Olivier Giroud once he returns?
Welbeck will have a prolonged run with his new club to show why Wenger should stick with him as his striker when Giroud returns from injury in January
Arsenal finally bowed to the growing pressure from their fans and made a transfer deadline day move for former Manchester United striker Danny Welbeck, landing the England international for £17m on the final day of the transfer window.
The deal, which was not announced until 1am this morning after the Gunners were given an extension to land the 23-year-old, sees Arsene Wenger add another striker to the current options of Olivier Giroud and Yaya Sanogo. Summer signing Alexis Sanchez can also lead the line of attack along with the likes of Lukas Podolski and Theo Walcott, although the latter is currently sidelined alongside Giroud through long-term injuries.
It was the loss of Giroud until 2015 through a broken tibia that led to Arsenal moving for Welbeck late yesterday evening, with the striker conveniently in London already as he trained with the rest of the England squad ahead of Wednesday’s international friendly against Norway.
Welbeck will be tasked with replacing the Frenchman until he is fit again for selection, where Wenger will then have a serious question on his hands; where does he play Welbeck?
The answer the question, we compare the two players and how they have fared in the Premier League since making their respective debuts.
Welbeck made his United league debut in 5-0 thrashing of Stoke City back in November 2008, getting on the scoresheet to ensure it was a Premier League bow to remember. He was limited to just 10 other appearances following the win – eight of which were domestic cup games – although he go on to score two further times to suggest that he stood a good chance of reaching his potential.
The following season saw a solid run in the United first-team squad before heading out to Preston North End on loan in January, although his spell at Deepdale was cut short after he required surgery on a knee injury that ended his season in March.
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A season-long loan with Sunderland failed to produce the fireworks that were hoped of Welbeck, as his time with the Black Cats yield just six goals in 29 appearances, although a double in the 2-2 draw with Everton stood out as a particular highlight with the north-east club. Welbeck remained with United for the entirety of the 2011/12 season as he looked to breakthrough under Sir Alex Ferguson’s guidance.
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The 2012/13 season signalled not only Welbeck’s standing as a United player for the future, but also the arrival of Giroud at Arsenal as he joined from French side Montpellier. While Welbeck was rotated between playing as a striker and out wide on the left wing, Giroud was tasked with replacing departed club captain Robin van Persie, who was now on the books at Old Trafford alongside Welbeck and thus keeping him out of the starting line-up.
Giroud struggled for consistency in his debut year with the Gunners, but managed to score 17 goals in all competitions as he made 47 appearances, giving him a strike rate of a goal every 2.6 matches. In comparison, Welbeck made 41 appearances for United, but most saw him come off the bench and he only notched two goals for the club in a season that yielded three goals for his country.
Last time out, Giroud finally found his feet at the Emirates, as he led the way for the North London club with 22 goals for Arsenal in 51 matches that also saw the club end their nine-year wait for a trophy in the form of the FA Cup. For Welbeck, he featured somewhat regularly under new manager David Moyes, and rewarded the faith shown in him by the inevitably doomed Scot with 10 goals in 36 appearances.
Giroud suffered the injury against Everton The prospect of the pair playing as a two-pronged strike-force is not a no-go decision for Wenger, but with the wealth of talent he has in his attacking midfielders, he would have to upset some big names to do so. That could mean that once Giroud is fully recovered and, providing Welbeck hasn’t stated his claim to make the first choice striker berth as his own, ready to return to the side, Welbeck could end up being shifted out wide once again.
Santi Cazorla and Lukas Podolski tend to grace the left flank more often than others, but Welbeck’s defensive qualities in his high work rate and solid tracking back would strengthen the Gunners in an area where they have looked a touch weak in the past – particularly when Nacho Monreal is at left-back.
The thought will not cross Wenger’s mind for some time though, with Welbeck set to lead the line of attack until the New Year at least. Sanogo has shown nothing in his short Arsenal career to suggest he deserves to start ahead of Welbeck, and the England star can expect to be named in the starting line-up when the Premier League returns. It’s sure to be a true test of Welbeck’s abilities though, as his debut will be against reigning Premier League champions Manchester City.
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