Arsene Wenger often gets criticized for his team selection, but his surprise move of dropping Olivier Giroud from the Arsenal starting XI last night seems to have been a stroke of tactical brilliance.
Danny Welbeck was given the nod over G-Rude and after the match Wenger explained the reasoning behind his decision. “He has pace and you also have to consider it psychologically.” he said on the official Arsenal website. “I have to rotate a little bit without destroying the balance of the team and I felt that we could have counter-attacking chances tonight and he would be ideal for that. Overall he had a great game.
“We all want to do well when we play against our former club to show that we are a great player, but it’s not easy to deal with the mental situation. He focused just on his game and didn’t do anything special, he just played football like you want him to play. He has shown mental strength because that’s not always easy to deal with.”
Le Boss was then asked if Welbeck was more motivated because he was facing his old club, but Wenger simply feels that Danny is improving all the time: “I don’t know. You’ll have to ask him that.” Wenger continued. “I just think he wants to win and he’s a team player. What I like with Danny is that he’s intelligent, he wants to do well for the team, he’s a great talent and recently he has done extremely well for the national team as well. He has shown today when you can produce such a complete performance offensively and defensively, he has a great future.”
DANNY WELBECK SAID – “It’s good for the team that we’re through to the next round, in the semi-finals at Wembley. To get the goal was good for me but it was all about the team performance tonight.
“It was a great reception. It was hard for me but I tried to be respectful.
“It was about being professional, keeping my focus and motivation. I kept plugging away and then got on the end of Antonio Valencia’s backpass, beat David de Gea and got the winning goal. I’m just really pleased we’re through to the next round.
“I stayed professional and I was just doing my job. To be able to get back on the scoresheet and get through to the next round is the most important thing.”
Whatever the reasons for Wenger’s choice it was a very astute one, and I have a feeling that Giroud may find it harder to be the automatic first choice striker from now onwards, but after this performance from Welbeck, Wenger will probably play both his strikers against Monaco as we need goals, goals, goals to produce another historic result in France…..