England's forgotten injured stars: Danny Welbeck

England's forgotten injured stars: Danny Welbeck

Arsenal’s front man, Danny Welbeck, hasn’t featured for the Gunners since their 0-0 draw against Chelsea back in April 2015. Once a young prospect hailed by Sir Alex Ferguson, Welbeck has been held back in his career – often being sidelined at Manchester United before being shifted off to Arsenal on Louis Van Gaal’s arrival. His move to London hasn’t quite begun yet either as he’s suffered a total of 318 days out of action with several injuries. Welbeck looked to be a future striker partner of Wayne Rooney’s amongst the England set-up but was never quite able to put himself out there as the front-runner, often having to settle for substitue appearances. Daniel Sturridge’s partnership with Luis Suarez at Liverpool threw the Englishmen into the starting XI alongside Manchester United’s captain and the recent success of Harry Kane has resulted in similar circumstances. On Welbeck’s return, he’ll have a lot of catching up to do before he announces himself once again as a prospect for English football.

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The striker is yet to feature for Arsenal in the 2015-16 season and in his absence, Oliver Giroud has produced some wonderful performances to keep Arsenal in the title chase. Alexis Sanchez’ injury means Arsenal are short on centre-forwards but with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mesut Ozil and Theo Walcott on their books, they’re never short of attacking threat. Danny Welbeck may have a lot to prove on his return as a result. Since making the switch from Arsenal to Manchester United in September 2014, Welbeck has suffered three major injury set-backs, involving a knee operation and further problems to his Patella and Thigh. His most recent injury, the aftermath of his knee operation, has meant Welbeck has missed 153 days of action for the Gunners and a total of 30 games.

Danny Welbeck’s injuries for Arsenal (via Transfermarkt.com)

15/16 Knee-OP – Sep 3, 2015 – Feb 3, 2016 153 days
14/15 Patella – May 2, 2015 – Sep 2, 2015 123 days
14/15 Knee – Mar 28, 2015 – Apr 4, 2015 7 days
14/15 Thigh – Dec 29, 2014 – Feb 2, 2015 35 days

Danny Welbeck first made people stand up and take notice when he broke into the Manchester United first team for their Premier League victory over Hull City in May 2009 after making a substitute appearance in 2008 at the age of 17. Five games later, he netted his debut goal for the Reds in the FA Cup against Derby County. He joined their academy at the age of eight and was offered a full professional contract in 2007. In just over a year, he had made 13 appearances in three competitions for Manchester United. Welbeck went on to make over 140 apearances for the Reds in total and though he wasn’t known for his goal-scoring prowess, he netted 29 goals during his time with the club. However, Knee and Thigh injuries were present during his time at Manchester United too and between 2009 and 2012, Welbeck missed a total of 148 days for the club.

Welbeck was still a youngster and though he had already shown great skill and composure for Manchester United at such a young age, he was sent out on loan to Preston and Sunderland between January 2010 and May 2011. It was his return to Manchester United, in the 2011-12 season, that was the break-through for Welbeck. He started to form an effective partnership with England international Wayne Rooney, scored 12 goals up to April and consolidated his place in the England first team squad after making his international debut against Ghana in March 2011.

Louis Van Gaal’s arrival in the summer of 2013 was bad news for Welbeck. Changes were being made at Manchester United and Radamel Falcao’s impending loan switch from Monacco meant Welbeck had been moved down the pecking order. His switch to Arsenal was a controversial one – many Manchester United fans were disappointed the club let him go. They were to regret their decision later on in the 2013-14 season when Welbeck’s second-half goal helped knock Manchester United out of the FA Cup.

Welbeck’s first season for Arsenal went reasonably well. He scored 8 goals including a hat-trick in their 4-1 victory over Galatasaray in the Champions League as well as that devastating goal against his former club. His second season has been one filled with injuries and challenges and it seems his time with Arsenal will not be easy any time soon. Known for his work-rate and defensive duties, Welbeck will need to improve on his goal-scoring record to hold a regular place in the Arsenal first team. Alexis Sanchez is injury-prone and Oliver Giroud’s form is inconsistent. Should Welbeck prove himself as clinical as he has on the international stage, his return could see him develop into an important member of the Arsenal first team and Manchetser United may come to regret their decision to let one of their youngsters leave.