Sunday, 29 January 2017

Arsene Wenger feared Danny Welbeck would lose sharpness after injuries

Arsene Wenger feared he may never have seen the best of Danny Welbeck again after the Arsenal striker suffered two serious knee injuries in 20 months.

Welbeck returned to Arsenal’s starting XI in style on Saturday, scoring two in the first 22 minutes to set his side on course for a 5-0 win where Theo Walcott added a hat-trick.

The 26-year-old only returned to Arsenal training last month after a second major surgery on his knees, the latter to fix cartilage damage in his right leg, and had played just 21 minutes across three substitute appearances prior to the FA Cup fourth round tie.

Wenger noted that Welbeck’s willingness to keep fighting after two major setbacks, the latter of which ruled him out of Euro 2016, had earned him the respect of his Arsenal team-mates, who delighted in his brace.

“You do wonder,” Wenger said when asked whether he feared Welbeck may never be the same player.

“I wondered first of all would he be solid enough mentally to cope with that.

“Then secondly you hope he will go well after he comes back after the second surgery.

“He worked very hard, he went through some moments of very deep disappointment. 

Because when he had the setback and he had to go in again, as a professional player that's very difficult.

Southampton will always be in my heart says Theo Walcott

Theo Walcott has revealed that he will always have a soft spot for Southampton and admits that he will cheer them on in the League Cup final.

The former Saints player bagged a hat-trick against his former side as the Gunners claimed a 5-0 win at St Mary's in the fourth round of the FA Cup.

Walcott told BT Sport after Saturday's match: "Southampton tend to be our bogey side but from the word go we were ready.

"We came out of the blocks running and Danny Welbeck came back with a bang. 

We created a lot of chances and it was nice to have the clean sheet. 

"Southampton will always be in my heart - I have some great memories here, they are a strong team and I will cheer them on in the EFL Cup final." 

Claude Puel's side will face Manchester United in the first cup final of the season at Wembley Stadium on Sunday, February 26.

Arsene Wenger was proud of his "dynamic, explosive" Arsenal

Arsene Wenger has praised his "dynamic and explosive" Arsenal side for thrashing Southampton 5-0 in their FA Cup fourth-round tie at St Mary's Stadium.

Theo Walcott bagged a hat-trick against his former side on Saturday, while Danny Welbeck struck a brace to help the Gunners reach the last 16 of the competition.

Wenger told BT Sport: "We were very dynamic, explosive and overall we had a good consistent performance over 90 minutes and everybody played well.

"Welbeck has been out for such a long time, I didn't expect him to score straight away and it shows the desire is there.

"People say I make changes but I bring in Walcott, Welbeck and Lucas Perez, all top quality players.

After that I try to find the best balance for the team."

Wenger was forced to watch from the stands as he began a four-match touchline ban.