Thank you for taking the time out to answer a few questions on Danny Welbeck, it seems as if many Arsenal fans are unsure of what to make of the signing and indeed the player. Having watched him so many times I am sure you are well equipped to fill in the blanks for some, including myself.
Before we jump on the Welbeck bus I wanted to ask you how you feel about the signing of Radamel Falcao and how you see your team shaping up this season?
If you told me two months ago that United would end up spending circa £150m in a single summer, including the signings of two genuine world class players, I'd have called for the men in white coats. Falcao is the cherry on a very tasty cake and it seems that the Glazers have realised that, without Fergie, they can no longer win things on the cheap and will have to use the clubs resources to compete.
As to how the team shapes up, I personally don't like the 3-5-2 as we don't have centre backs of the quality needed to make it work. I would prefer a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1, probably the latter given that we don't have great options in the defensive midfield area. My ideal lineup would be De Gea-Rafael-Jones-Rojo-Shaw-Blind-Herrera-Di Maria-Van Persie-Mata-Falcao in a 4-2-3-1, which is admittedly very attacking but I suspect our defence will conceded goals however we play so we might as well maximise the amount we can score.
You'll notice that there is no Rooney in that lineup and that's because I subscribe that Fergie's view that Rooney, for all his individual quality, hurts the balance of the team when things aren't built around him. This is one of the reasons why SAF wanted him sold and with the options we now have in his position, I don't think he justifies having the side built to his needs.
So onto Mr Welbeck, how do you feel about seeing him leave Old Trafford after all these years?
Imagine how you would feel if Jack Wilshere had been sold to one of the other major English clubs and you've probably got an idea of how the overwhelming majority of United fans feel. Falcao is an extremely soft cushion for the blow but it still feels painful losing a player who was born just a couple of miles from Old Trafford and who has been with the club for two thirds of his life.
That said, if I look at it from Danny's point of view, it is probably the right decision for him. He has Falcao, Van Persie and Rooney ahead of him, with the super-talented James Wilson coming up behind. Consistent opportunities would be difficult, particularly if we do switch to playing with one out-and-out striker. Wilson is at least a decade younger than the aforementioned trio, which gives him the leeway to be patient, whilst Welbeck is 23 and so really needs to being playing regularly.
What would you say are his strengths?
Physically, Welbeck is a superb athlete, having an excellent combination of strength and mobility in addition to superb stamina. This makes it difficult to know how to defend against him because, although he prefers running in behind, he is very comfortable with his back to goal.
Technically, he is better than he generally gets given credit for. I'd say Danny's technique is on a similar level to Ramsey, very good though not on the elite level of the likes of Ozil and Wilshere. He is inconsistent when trying flicks and tricks but his passing, particularly in tight spaces, is top notch for a striker and it's no coincidence that he has tended to be involved in our best team goals in the last few years.
His defensive instincts are very solid, particularly for someone who plays in an attacking position and I think this has sometimes had a detrimental effect because it has encouraged managers to use him in a wide role with a defensive remit, which is something he can do well but doesn't really show him at his best. He also has a superb attitude and work ethic, which makes me think he will thrive under a development-minded manager like Wenger.
What about his weaknesses?
Welbeck's main weakness, indeed I'd say his only truly major one, is his finishing, which admittedly is a pretty fundamental weakness for a striker. This isn't a matter of technique because if you look at the goals he has scored, there are a lot of high-quality finishes in there, it's more a combination of nerves and pressure.
Having to compete with Van Persie and Rooney for a place and often being played out wide has often caused him to be a bit over-keen to impress when he has played up front and this has led him to snatch at some chances, whilst Danny himself has commented that when he has played out wide, it was always in his mind when he got a scoring chance that it might well be the only one he would get in the game, which led to him rushing them.
This is borne out by the stats because if you look at his 25 appearances in the league last year, he scored 8 times in 13 games when playing up front but only 1 in 12 when playing wide.
The much maligned Oliver Giroud has been critical to the way Arsenal play due to his ability to link midfield and the attack together. Does Danny Welbeck have similar qualities?
He does have very similar linkup qualities but with an added dose of mobility that will allow Arsenal to linkup with greater flexibility. Giroud, though a better player than many think, causes two major problems for Arsenal. Firstly his lack of mobility means he can't occupy both centre backs, which means the defence will always have a man spare to track runners from midfield. Secondly, his absolute refusal to countenance making a run behind the defence, whilst being stubbornness that Ian Paisley would be proud of, makes it so much easier for teams to press high against Arsenal, reducing the space that players like Ozil, Wilshere and Cazorla have to work in and putting more pressure on the defensive midfielder, which, whether it be Arteta (slow) or Flamini (rubbish), is not something you really want. This issue is even more exacerbated when Walcott is absent. Welbeck solves both of these problems, whilst his passing quality will allow Arsenal to keep Giroud's linkup play.
I've read that Welbeck has spent a lot of time on the left flank. I'm interested to know how he got on in that position.
This has been more about bad luck on Welbeck's part than anything else. Between 2008-10 he played 24 games for United and 8 more on loan at Preston before going on loan to Sunderland for a season. He got the chance to play up front in 2011-12 and generally did a very good job but then we signed Van Persie and that, combined with a lack of decent left-sided wingers (Louise Woodward was a more threatening nanny than that Portuguese shithouse and Ashley Young is about as much use as one-legged cat trying to bury a turd on a frozen lake) meant that he was shifted wide, not unlike how Wilshere was shifted wide for Arsenal last season due to a combination of injuries and Ramsey's form.
How do you think Welbeck will do at Arsenal?
I think he will do very well and I'm worried that this could come back to haunt us. It's a very similar situation to Sturridge at Chelsea in that both have generally done a very good job when given chances up front but, for whatever reason have been shifted wide. If Wenger can sort his finishing, which I suspect he will, then Arsenal will have a very good player who is perfectly suited to the way they want to play.
Any other thoughts?
Can we have Jack Wilshere?
Once again thank you for the responses. Fingers crossed that Welbeck hits the ground running, I mean a goal and an Arsenal victory against our next opponents Manchester City would make both of us happy right?
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