Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger thinks striker Danny Welbeck allowed his attacking verve and vitality take centre-stage in Wednesday night’s Champions League win over Galatasaray.
The £16m summer signing from Manchester United showcased the true mark of a goal poacher in the 4-1 win in front of home fans; pace, power and then a quality finish. The Englishman commanded the ball and jinked his challengers with great dexterity on his track to scoring his first professional hat-trick.
“He was on the end of good movements tonight and we had good pace in our game,” the 64-year-old Frenchman said. “Our transition play and our finishing was good, and Danny was at the end of good collective movements.
“It’s nice to see the potential is there and he’s starting to get there – hopefully that hat-trick will help him gain confidence.”
The 23-year-old was allowed to leave Old Trafford in the summer because new United boss Louis van Gaal became cynical of his contribution to his side judging by the player’s track record.
Since crossing the gates at the Emirate Stadium, Welbeck has experienced his long-lost desire to anchor the forward line. At his previous club, he worked tirelessly for the team as a provider and despite some few blips in previous performances at the north London club, Welbeck did lash out when it mattered most.
Having lost their opening game at Dortmund and needing a quick rebirth on head-to-head against their Istanbul guests, Welbeck’s treble and Alex Sanchez’s compliment helped the ‘Gunners’ mount pressure on leaders Borussia Dortmund, who maintained their perfect start away to Benfica.
Wenger added: “It always helps to know that you have a good chance to play in the next game. What’s good for me is that his link play is good as well. His teamwork and his work rate is at the level of the team.
“His attitude is very positive – he’s a team player, not just a finisher. He has learned that on the flank and he wants to help the team.
“(Today, I learnt) That he’s a good finisher. I believe that, technically, he’s very sound. That was a surprise that he’s technically clean and that he’s a good passer of the ball. I didn’t know he was so quick. Honestly, I knew he was quick but he can be electric when he starts – he has great pace.”
The striker was moreover delighted to repay the faith Wenger has shown in him.
“He’s given me the chance to play up front in my preferred position,” said Welbeck. “I’m going to do everything that I can to make sure that he’s happy.
“The most important thing was we got our three points on the board. We needed that after the first game in the group. We’ve set the benchmark now and we’ve really got to try and grow on that positive win. From now on we want to get three points in every single game.”
The only flaw- arguably- in the team’s performance last night was the red card for goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny. Wenger admits their tempo changed following the Polish shot-stopper’s straight red but all together was grateful to David Ospina’s for his contribution.
The Colombian gave a good account of himself, including parrying Gala goal scorer Burak Yilmaz’s powerful header.
“I felt we had a good start,” Wenger said. “They were surprised by our pace in the game. We lost control of the game at 4-1 when we were down to 10 men. We needed a few good saves from David Ospina and then you could see that Galatasaray had quality.
“When he (Ospina) came on we were suffering and he had a good performance and played very well.
“As soon as we allowed them to play they became a very dangerous team. Maybe at the start of the game, and the first hour, the pace was a problem for them.”
Prandelli takes responsibility
Galatasaray boss Cesare Prandelli had to endure critical questions about tactics after a dismal defensive display.
Former Italy coach Prandelli deployed Brazilian midfielder Felipe Melo in central defence and he was brutally exposed by Welbeck.
“It is all my responsibility,” Prandelli said. “It wasn’t a great performance. Unfortunately the defenders played a bit wider than I expected and Melo had to play one against one.
“We will find a system the players believe in. Sometimes the messages I give might not go through to the team, but I believe we have very good players and we should be able to show our qualities.”