A hat trick from Danny Welbeck isn’t the most improbable thing in the world, but Arsenal and Arsene Wenger shouldn’t expect it to happen a whole lot in the future. He’s a very useful player to have in certain formations, but a pure scorer is something he’s not.
It doesn’t matter. Arsenal have finally had a big win in front of their home fans this season. Sure, there was the 3-0 win at Birmingham against Aston Villa, but that little slice of glee was taken off the faces of fans once the home draw with Tottenham occurred. For all of the talent and flair Arsenal have, the same problems of the last 10 years keep repeating, no matter how many players of quality Wenger signs or develops (which hardly happens anymore).
Welbeck is a project. He’s physically gifted, experienced at the highest levels and is intelligent on the pitch, which means he knows what’s asked of him and usually knows how to execute those wishes. He’s never been a scorer. He’s excellent as a defensive forward, which means closing down a wing or marking a defensive midfielder. But a finisher? His 20 goals in 92 appearances for Manchester United suggest there are better player at that than him.
But Wenger turned Robin van Persie, along with some natural evolution from the Dutch striker, into one of the best in the world and once the injuries went away for a short while, he was the most prolific finisher in the Premier League. Too bad his title-winning credentials came elsewhere, as Ferguson paid Wenger a handsome fee for developing a player for him. He wasn’t the first to do that and reap the rewards thanks to the ability to spend quick cash, something Wenger has finally caught up on.
Is it working? Not yet. Arsenal are fidgety. Their defensive midfield issues continue to plague them. Their striker issue still isn’t resolved, despite the Welbeck hat trick. Defensively they’re not bad, but depth is an issue and will continue to be throughout this season.
But moments will come when everything clicks. Not all the time, not from the way things have been so far. Yet at the end of the road, sometimes, there’s a silver lining. It won’t be one that has Welbeck suddenly becoming a prolific finisher, challenging for the Premier League’s golden boot. However, maybe Wenger has a better idea than anyone else of how to turn him into a finished project, and not a walking bag of potential that always raises questions about what to do with him.