Danny Welbeck delivered a powerful punch back to all the doubters, haters, and critics of his game and talent yesterday with a two-goal performance that helped Arsenal avoid further embarrassment by defeating relegation-threatened Southampton. And as is his right, he took the opportunity post-match to expand on what the goals mean, and to talk about the miss in front of the net that’s been unfairly scrutinized by many.
Here he is, discussing what he feels he brings to Arsenal:
“As you’ve seen I can play with Pierre [Aubameyang] and Lac [Alexandre Lacazette],” he said. “It’s nice. The competition for places gives you that added motivation to improve and better yourself. I’ve had it my whole career. It’s healthy but I know I can link up with plenty of players in this team.”
And about the miss, and being able to recover from it:
“The miss,” Welbeck said. “It isn’t like I wanted to miss. I just couldn’t stretch enough to get there – but that’s football. In your mindset you just have to know there’s going to be another opportunity and you have to keep focused. I’ve been through much tougher stuff than that. So it’s nothing. You just have to keep your mindset strong.”
It’s quite clear in every angle of the miss that Jack Wilshere’s ball to Welbeck, a player that deserves rightful praise for being able to get to Alex Iwobi’s cross that would have gone out of play were it not for his ability to get an outstretched, diving foot on it, bounced at its highest point right as it got to the maligned forward. Welbeck accurately pointed this out in the quote above, that he couldn’t stretch enough to get to the ball. The optics of the play in question is what’s turned it into a weapon against Welbeck - he was unmarked, two yards in front of the goal line, and with a keeper who trailed Iwobi’s cross to Wilshere and thus standing on his right hand post. It’s not a good look at first examination.
But with hindsight and the ability to view the play over again, it’s unfair to call this anything more than a stroke of bad luck. To use it as a negative in regards to Welbeck’s talent is simply unfair and narrow. Welbeck might rue the miss, and ultimately that’s a great thing to have in a forward who wants to score as many goals as possible. But some situations deserve a pass, and this is one of them.