‘Danny Welbeck was at Manchester United from when he was nine. He has played, after his 2010-11 loan at Sunderland, three seasons at Manchester United but he doesn’t have the record of Robin van Persie or Wayne Rooney. That is the standard.’
That was the crushing explanation Louis van Gaal gave to the media after selling local lad Danny Welbeck to Arsenal for £16m in September. For a lot of Manchester United fans, it was a disappointing sale as Welbeck had broken through the youth system and was on his way to potentially becoming an important part of the side. This weekend Welbeck faces his boyhood club for Arsenal at the Emirates, but has the move down south benefited Dat Guy?
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A big hat-tip to Leo Kellenberger in PP Design for this quality image
If we’d posted that question to you on October 18 you probably would have said yes. Welbeck had just scored a stoppage time equaliser to rescue a point at home to Hull and had kick-started his Arsenal career with five goals in his first seven games. He’d also bagged three goals in England’s qualifiers against Switzerland and San Marino. Arsenal fans couldn’t get enough of their new striker while Louis van Gaal was preparing to tuck into a wholesome plate of humble pie.
Unfortunately five games for the Gunners since have resulted in blanks for Welbeck whose stats are now starting to echo LVG’s crushing words. Despite 11 of his 30 appearances in the Premier League and Champions League last season were as a substitute, and another handful of those used as a winger, Welbeck managed to rack up a goal every 184 minutes. In his 12 games at Arsenal that average has dropped to a goal every 207 minutes.
The good news for Welbeck, and Arsenal fans, is that the striker is seeing plenty more of the ball in the box, and in his favoured position leading the line that can only be a good thing. With the Gunners, Welbeck gets a shot away inside the box, on average, every 32 minutes, while at United he was only fed the ball into the box once every 53 minutes. I’m no Carol Vorderman, but the maths would suggest that the more times you get a shot away in the box, the more likely you are to score. The gravy on top of this optimistic pie is that Welbeck’s conversion rate last season was 21.3 per cent, meaning that if he can get up to that average again for the Gunners he could easily become one of their most prolific front men.
Incidentally, Robin van Persie’s conversion rate last season was just 20.5 per cent, and this season is just 11.5 per cent. Maybe Louis van Gaal needs to double-check his abacus…
This weekend Welbeck is the 5/1 favourite to break the deadlock at the Emirates and 13/10 to find the onion bag at any time against his former employers. Will you be backing him to rediscover his early season form?
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