Arsene Wenger says Danny Welbeck surpassed even the Frenchman’s expectations with hat-trick against Galatasary in the Champions League
Arsène Wenger admitted that he had not appreciated that Danny Welbeck was a good finisher or so adept technically even after spending £16 million on making him the most expensive centre-forward in Arsenal’s history.
Welbeck followed Michael Owen, Alan Shearer, Wayne Rooney, Mike Newell and Andy Cole to become only the sixth English player to score a Champions League hat-trick. Asked what he had learnt about Welbeck in the past month, Wenger said: “I’ve learnt he’s a good finisher. Technically he’s very sound. That was a surprise. He’s technically clean and that he’s a good passer of the ball.
“Honestly, I didn’t know he was so quick. I knew he was quick but he can be electric when he starts. He showed that instinct of a goalscorer and was aggressive.”
Welbeck later said that he had initially forgotten the match ball after what was the first hat-trick of his senior career. “I’m not used to it – my last hat-trick was probably for United’s reserves.”
Arsenal return to Chelsea on Sunday for the first time since the humiliation of losing 6-0 there last season and Wenger believes that Welbeck will go into the game with growing confidence and certainty about his place in the team. “The potential is there and hopefully this hat-trick will help him to gain confidence,” Wenger said.
“He has such good pace that it gives him time to finish calm. Once players understand that, their finishing improves a lot. It helps always to know that you have a good chance to play the next game. His link-up play is good, as well as his work rate and his attitude. He’s a team player, not only a finisher.”
Welbeck believes that his performance should represent a benchmark for the rest of the season as he attempts to justify his current status as an automatic starter in the Arsenal team.
“The manager has shown a lot of faith in me and I’m delighted to repay him,” he said. “He has given me a chance to play football up front in my preferred position and I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that he is happy.
“We’ve set the benchmark now and we have really got to try and grow on that win. From now on we want to get three points in every game.”
Although Wenger was delighted by Arsenal’s performance, he felt that they lost control of the game when Wojciech Szczesny was sent off and Burak Yilmaz scored a consolation penalty. Wenger also appeared more frustrated at Alèxis Sánchez for losing the ball in the build-up to the penalty than with Szczesny’s infringement. Sánchez then looked unhappy at being substituted having scored and provided an assist for Welbeck. “I took Sánchez out to be a bit more solid defensively when we went down to 10 men,” Wenger said.
“He played well, made some good passes apart from the goal we conceded. In all my years as manager I’ve not see a player who’s happy to come off. For the penalty we lost the ball in our own half. Wojciech was a fraction late. When you lose the ball in your own half like we did, that kind of thing can happen.”