Belfast Telegraph

Wenger: Welbeck a different animal

Arsene Wenger has played down echoes of Thierry Henry in Danny Welbeck but insisted he can become Arsenal's beast in the box.

The £16million forward opened his Gunners account in their 3-0 win at Aston Villa on Saturday.

Three strikes in under four minutes from Mesut Ozil, Welbeck and Aly Cissokho's own goal saw Arsenal hit back after their 2-0 Champions League defeat at Borussia Dortmund.

Welbeck played as a central striker, rather than out wide as he did at Old Trafford, leading to comparisons with Henry's Gunners career.

Wenger brought the Frenchman from Juventus in 1999 and helped transform him from a winger into Arsenal's record goalscorer.

But he was quick to play down early similarities with the Gunners legend.

"Look, give me some time, it is a bit early to say that when you look at the number of goals Thierry Henry scored," said Wenger.

"I think Danny has an interesting potential and let's see how he develops. He has a good mentality, good physical potential, technical potential and he contributes to our team play because he doesn't lose the ball and those are important qualities. Thierry is a good act to follow and I have nothing against it."

But Wenger insisted, now he has grabbed his first Arsenal goal, Welbeck has rediscovered his animal instinct in the box.

"He has played wide at Manchester United, never through the middle," he said.

"You lose a little bit of that instinct to score and also that pressure, which is a bit animalistic.

"You need to be in the middle and wait for your chance to kill the opponent. On the flank you have less of that responsibility.

"It's not a question of potential, it is more a nervous problem because in training he scores goals like a real striker.

"He rushed his finishing until now because he didn't score."

Arsenal demolished Villa, who were affected by a virus which ruled out Darren Bent, Nathan Baker and Ashley Westwood.

Midfielder Westwood pulled out of the warm-up while the sick Andreas Weimann was replaced at half-time and Fabian Delph and Brad Guzan played despite illness.

The squad have the day off on Monday as the club look to stop the bug spreading but it is understood they will return to training on Tuesday.

Boss Paul Lambert said: "I thought we might have got away with it but people seem to be dropping all the time. I'm not a medical person but I've not had anything as bad as this before.

"Fabian had it in the build-up to the Liverpool game, Brad had it and it's been like dominoes.

"Fabian's been brilliant and he kept going. It's just mother nature and I couldn't fault the lads for their effort."

Chairman Randy Lerner was also at the ground to watch his first home game in almost two years.

"We'll no doubt go for a bit to eat, I'll see the chairman before he flies back," added Lambert.

Lambert also confirmed Christian Benteke will not play in Monday's under-21 match with Derby as he recovers from a ruptured Achilles.

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