Wenger keen to keep Welbeck at Arsenal
The striker is likely to start against Ostersund in the Europa League.
Arsene Wenger insists he wants to keep Danny Welbeck at Arsenal despite admitting he is no Harry Kane when it comes to scoring goals.
The Gunners forward is likely to be given another rare start when Ostersund visit the Emirates Stadium for the second leg of their Europa League round of 32 tie on Thursday night.
Arsenal are in complete control having won 3-0 in Sweden last week and should secure safe passage into Friday’s draw with little complication.
With Alexandre Lacazette injured and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ineligible in Europe, Wenger turned to Welbeck in Ostersund but the England striker was toothless and was unable to add to the modest total of five goals he has totted up so far this campaign.
The former Manchester United man has struggled with injuries ever since arriving from Old Trafford in 2014 and his contract in up at the end of next season.
Despite his patchy fitness and the club breaking their transfer record twice in six months to land Lacazette and Aubameyang, Wenger is keen to keep Welbeck at Arsenal.
“I want to keep him because I believe he has gone through a torrid time,” explained Wenger.
“He has come out well. I see signs in training now that are positive. If he can stay on the pitch and not be injured, I want him to stay here.”
Welbeck’s fortunes are in stark contrast to his England international colleague Kane, who has finished as the Premier League’s top goalscorer in the past two seasons and is on course to make it a hat-trick this year.
Wenger admitted Welbeck cannot match the Tottenham striker when it comes to goalscoring but is a fan of his adaptability.
“I like him because he can play left, right or up front,” he said.
“For me he is a useful player, first of all because of his quality. He might not be a goalscorer like Harry Kane for example, but for England he can perfectly play with Harry Kane because he can play on the flanks.”
Given his battle with injuries, Wenger conceded the forward has suffered a loss in confidence and lost faith in his body.
But in Jack Wilshere, his international colleague and club-mate who has returned from his own injury torment to become a vital part of the team at Arsenal, Wenger believes Welbeck has an inspiration to look up to.
Asked if Welbeck’s situation was similar to Wilshere’s, Wenger replied: “Similar.
“I always hope that the player can come back. He certainly was (an inspiration).
“When you are in this kind of situations you become closer to the guys who are in the same situation. They are very close to each other.”
While Welbeck is attempting to find some form against Ostersund, Wilshere is expected to be rested for Sunday’s Carabao Cup final against Manchester City – a game his close friend will be desperate to be a part of.