Arsenal recovered from a shambolic display against Borussia Dortmund to claim a convincing 3-0 win over Aston Villa on Saturday. Mesut Ozil got the ball rolling before Danny Welbeck grabbed his first Arsenal goal, then an own goal from Aly Cissokho wrapped the game up as Arsenal racked up three goals in four minutes at Villa Park.
The return to form of Ozil was one of the big talking points from the game, but Welbeck stole the show with his first goal for Arsenal since completing a £16m deadline day move from Manchester United. The Gunners needed to sign a striker all summer, but it was only when Olivier Giroud suffered an ankle injury that manager Arsene Wenger turned to the transfer market for attacking reinforcements - when he found Welbeck.
The 23-year-old was forced out of Old Trafford after the arrival of Radamel Falcao, and now the England international gets the chance to play as a centre forward - something that he seldom got at United. Wenger now believes that Welbeck can rediscover his finishing instinct by playing up front, but will take time to do so having played out wide so much for United.
"He’s a good finisher but he’s played wide for Manchester United in the last two or three years and has lost a little bit of instinct to score," Wenger said. "It’s a bit animalistic to score. You need to be in the middle and you always need to wait for your chance to get the ball. On the flank you have less of that responsibility."
"When you play wide you have to cross the ball for somebody else to score. Playing in the middle, somebody has to go on the flank and cross the ball for you to score, so it’s a different job," added the Frenchman. "He [Welbeck] has an interesting potential. He has a good mentality, good physical potential and good technical potential. He contributes to our team play because he doesn’t lose the ball up front and those are important qualities."
The situation is eerily similar to when Wenger swooped to bring Thierry Henry to Arsenal from Juventus for £11m back in 1999. Wenger had worked with Henry at Monaco before the forward earned his big move to Italy, but he always felt that he would be better served playing up front. Instead, Henry was used as a winger and failed at Juventus, leading to his move to Arsenal after just seven months in Turin.
Henry went on to become an Arsenal legend under Wenger's tutelage, scoring 226 goals in just 369 games before a 2007 move to Barcelona. Now, it would be outrageous to suggest that Welbeck will go on to become the player that Henry was. However, Wenger has already proven that he can rekindle a player's "finishing instincts" in Henry, and will now try to do the same with Welbeck by using him in a similar way to that of Henry during his prime.
It may take some time, but with the pace to get in behind defences, Welbeck could have something of a similar impact under Wenger - and he may even already be looking up to Henry as a role model upon arriving at the Emirates Stadium.