Analysis: Welbeck’s patient return to first-team action

Danny Welbeck

Danny Welbeck’s long-awaited return from injury couldn’t have been sweeter.

A warm reception away at Preston, followed by a well-taken brace to help secure passage into the fifth round of the FA Cup past Southampton has helped justify limited transfer activity in attack recently.

He joined the club’s official weekly podcast to discuss why he has quickly returned to full fitness after a long-term injury sustained in May last year. Talking about his comeback against Preston he said, “It was a great feeling to be back on the pitch after spending so long out on the sidelines.

Welbeck in action on his first-team return against Preston

Arsenal’s English striker Danny Welbeck (R) evades a tackle from Preston’s Irish midfielder Alan Browne during the English FA Cup third round football match between Preston North End and Arsenal at Deepdale in north west England on January 7, 2017. Arsenal won the game 2-1. (Picture source: Lindsey Parnaby / AFP / Getty Images)

Being sidelined for so long would’ve had a drain on him mentally. He didn’t shy away from also speaking about the negative effects, feeling powerless to help the team on matchdays and how it made him feel.

It’s obviously difficult mentally, watching from the sides, not being able to take part. You feel so far away from it all.

What made the 26-year-old’s recovery from injury all the more frustrating, was the lengthy spells out of action. Having sustained a patella issue from May to September of 2015, he then missed a whopping 30 matches (Sept 2015 to Feb 2016) having had an operation to resolve his recurring issues.

Just three months after returning, he looked certain for a spot in Roy Hodgson’s Euro 2016 squad. Then, disaster struck and he was sidelined once more with another injury setback. He described it as “horrible,” given the fact he worked so hard to return quickly from the initial injury and was given a lengthy timescale from doctors.

When questioned about what kept him going through the dark moments during his rehabilation, his answer was a passionate one.

The love for football. However hard it may have been at the time, going through the experiences, it’s the thrill of getting back out there on the pitch [that motivates you].

He spoke about an “indescribable” feeling as he gradually progress through the rehab process and was beginning to near a first-team return.

Having netted a last-gasp winner against Leicester this time last year, and already impressed on his return this season, he was also quizzed about how players like himself can comeback at full speed.

Danny Welbeck scores against Southampton
SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – JANUARY 28: Danny Welbeck of Arsenal celebrates with Kieran Gibbs of Arsenal after scoring his side’s first goal during the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round match between Southampton and Arsenal at St Mary’s Stadium on January 28, 2017 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

It’s different. Some may find it harder than others, age has something to do with that. Even though you’re out injured, there is still a lot you can learn – developing a better understanding of the game in general.

As we are in the business end of the Premier League campaign, it’s natural for players to have personal targets they aim to achieve. Welbeck has unsurprisingly set realistic goals that could stand him in good stead for the coming months.

Most important thing for me is to gather consistency in training, get minutes under my belt in first-team matches.

Having impressed once again during a second-half cameo appearance against Chelsea last weekend, many have called for him to be given a starting berth. He’ll be hungry to get back amongst the thick of things as the Gunners aim to finish the season strongly despite unpredictable displays in recent months.

Welbeck in a second-half cameo against Chelsea

Arsenal’s English striker Danny Welbeck (L) vies with Chelsea’s Serbian midfielder Nemanja Matic (R) during the English Premier League football match between the two sides at Stamford Bridge in London on February 4, 2017. (Picture source: Ian Kington / AFP / Getty Images)

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