Clichéd Outlook, But Welbeck Setback Could Be A Positive For Arsenal


by  Ronnie Macdonald 

It may be a tired footballing cliché rolled out every time a high-profile figure sustains a long-term injury, but Danny Welbeck really could be like a new signing for Arsenal by the time he is ready to return to first-team duty.

He will certainly have plenty to prove and ample motivation to make his mark for the Gunners.

As things stand, the England international is expected to be out until Christmas – with Arsene Wenger confirming as much at his pre-weekend press conference, at which he was forced to deny misleading supporters regarding the severity of a knee problem that has required surgery.

Were Welbeck to step up his recovery around the festive period, then you would have to expect that it will be January at the earliest by the time he is match sharp and in contention for a recall to competitive action.

By then, with long-standing issues taken into account, he will have been on the sidelines for around eight months.

In that time, he has seen his teammates lift the FA Cup – denying him the opportunity to play any significant role in the collective highlight of his debut campaign at the club – while his England colleagues have breezed their way to Euro 2016 qualification.

Welbeck will have been an interested spectator over the course of the last week, with the Three Lions preserving their faultless record on the road to next summer’s European Championships.

It will not have been lost on him that Harry Kane – a potential rival for a striking berth in Roy Hodgson’s 23-man squad - netted twice, while the likes of Raheem Sterling and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain saw further minutes in their efforts to nail down berths in wide attacking roles.

He will also be aware that Daniel Sturridge is approaching the end of his own road to recovery and will have longer in which to catch the eye of the international selection committee.

It could be that Welbeck has less than six months in which to earn himself a seat on the plane/Eurostar to France, and he must ensure that he is ready and able to grasp that opportunity with both hands.

He will, of course, offer support to those expected to carry the torch over the coming weeks, with a failure to bolster the ranks over the summer leaving Olivier Giroud as the main man once again up top – with Theo Walcott offering willing back-up.

Welbeck will need goals and strong performances when his returns, helping him to convince a sceptical fan base of his worth and state of health, while also catching the respective eyes of Hodgson and Wenger as they contemplate what to do with the talent at their disposal.

Premier League betting markets still fancy Arsenal to go well this season, and for good reason, and the return of a player the Gunners have got just 34 appearances out of so far in all competitions will unquestionably aid their cause.

He may not be a new signing, but given Wenger’s reluctance to dip into the market and the timing of his scheduled reintroduction to the first-team, the 24-year-old may just feel like one when the time comes for him to lace up his boots again.

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