We Gooners can be an affectionate bunch.
The term ‘fan favourite’ is one that can be applied to many of our past and present players, and the parameters to attain this level of adoration – for Arsenal players – are wider than most fanbases.
Remember John Jensen? The Dane came to Arsenal off the back of an incredible Euro92 campaign with Denmark, and proceeded to score a solitary goal in his four years as a Gunner. Yes, he was a decent tackler, but in the cold light of day, it wasn’t his performances that keep him memorable.
The same can be said of a few others, where their skills on the turf may not have been made tangible for all of us to see, but the mere mention of their name brings forth a nostalgic grin.
Danny Welbeck is not one of those players who never showed us what he can do. On the contrary, ‘Dat Guy’ was full of nifty touches in and around the box, with a decent awareness and a hell of a tank on him to boot, that allowed him to mercilessly track up and down whatever flank he was tasked with.
The bottom line for a striker though, is goals – and Welbeck never got close to what was needed in this one area.
Welbz did however, score some memorable and important goals. Who can forget his Cup goal versus his former team? Or his goal after returning from a nightmare injury – a five minute cameo that gave us a late win over Champions-to-be Leicester?
Welbeck came up with the goods in so many ways, just not the way that a striker is judged on – and now with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and young upstart Eddie Nketiah all vying for a striking spot in this new regime – do we have room for affection?
Olivier Giroud was a prime example of this. The Frenchman gave so much more than goals – his hold up play and touch to bring in others were superb. When compared to Welbeck he could even be described as prolific – but his lack of a killer edge in the box meant he was surplus to requirements, despite the love we had – and still do – for him.
Welbeck has scored 15 goals in 80 appearances in our shirt. Yet for England, he has a ratio of nearly a goal every other game. The way he is utilised is key – when donning the three lions, he is first and foremost a striker – but at Arsenal, he is so much more.
Welbeck’s performances and talents for our club benefit the whole team. Play him on the left or the right and you keep it far tighter than if you were to play another wide forward, and your attack is knitted together that little more succinctly too. He constantly runs, stretching defences who are forced to track his tireless darting, and this means space that our more ruthless attackers can profit from.
Sometimes, you need players who are selfless. Welbeck in the eleven means better cohesion. Doesn’t it speak volumes that he can play across the whole forward line and still make a massive difference? Welbeck is a squad player we can trust – and one we have faith in – just not in front of goal.
If an offer comes in for the England man, no one could have any qualms with him moving on in search of minutes on the pitch.
Still, if we could offload Joel Campbell and a few others rather than Welbeck, then our squad – especially when the games come thick and fast – would wholly benefit and be stronger for Welbeck’s inclusion.
He is Dat Guy for a reason.