As well as praising the Arsenal and England international star for the way he came back after a long time out with injury problems, Arsene Wenger was attempting to explain to the confused Arsenal fans just why he had dropped Danny Welbeck from the Arsenal starting line-up in recent weeks.
We are not just talking about the win over Norwich City on Saturday either, even though that match and the decision of the manager to take Alex Iwobi and not Olivier Giroud off when he brought on Welbeck after the break. That was the third game in a row that Welbeck had started on the bench and after the way he impressed after his return to the side and with Giroud being on his longest ever goal drought, it seemed an odd decision.
But Wenger has revealed in an Arsenal.com report that it was all about the fitness of the forward, which had slumped after the initial spurt when he gave everything and drained the batteries that had not been used since the end of last season.
The Frenchman said, “Welbeck came in and played very well [on his comeback], like the players who have been out for nine months always do,” the manager said.
“You have to trust me on that, I know that well – after they come in they are super sharp and then after, against Crystal Palace, he had a very average game and looked a bit for one or two games that he paid for the physical energy he had given.
“So you let them rest one or two games and you bring them back in. [Against Norwich], when he came on, you could see he is a different animal again.
“A striker wants to score goals and when he doesn’t, is it pure confidence or is it just to think, ‘How can I score again?’” he said. “They need goals.
“But he [Giroud] responds, he’s a guy who is mentally strong. Today he gave an assist, I put that in the same category as a goal.”
Welbeck also backed the statement of the boss and even admitted that his half hour against Norwich had taken a lot out of him, but in another Arsenal.com report he made it clear that he did not really want to be a sub and that he would much prefer to start in the centre forward position.
He said, “It is down to the manager, but I want to play every single game as players do. Being out for such a long time and coming back, you have to get back into match fitness. As you can tell, I’m blowing and I only played 30 minutes. It was nice, and I want to keep on playing games and building up my fitness.
“I prefer to play as a striker, but once I’m on the pitch I’m going to do my best and try to win the game for my team.”
With Arsenal likely to be involved in a much more open game next weekend at Man City, where the pace and movement of Welbeck can really help us, has Wenger been saving this different animal from Giroud to be unleashed against City as we try to secure at least third and a guaranteed Champions League place?