Welcome to a brand new week on TremendArse. I don’t know about you, but for me Mondays have rarely felt as good as this one after Danny Welbeck’s glorious late goal gave us victory over Leicester yesterday.
No start of the semana blues for me. No siree. Any ill-feeling at the prospect of five straight days of work before the next weekend arrives were washed away by the memory of that beautiful last minute winner and the scenes of unrestrained celebration by fans and players in unison that followed it.
The fact it was Danny who scored just made the moment more special. Not only had we come from a goal down to win a game against the league leaders with virtually the last act of the match, closing the gap between the sides to just two points in the process and preventing them from moving eight clear of us, a player who was making his first appearance for 10 months after battling a serious knee complaint was the man to win it.
Yet the irony is Welbeck wasn’t expected to be involved at all, let alone emerge the heroic match-winner, following Arsene Wenger’s press conference on Friday when he suggested next weekend’s FA Cup tie against Hull would mark the striker’s return from long-term injury. After the game, Arsene explained what had changed in the time between him talking to the press and him announcing his match-day 18 on Sunday morning:
In the last two days he (Welbeck) was convincing in training. I planned at the start, when I made my press conference on Friday morning, to play him next week. But in the last two training sessions he was very strong and I decided just in the end to include him in the squad. Yes (it was a great decision to select him), but it was a great decision because Danny Welbeck is a great player, and you never know in our job if somebody else had come on would he have scored or not. But everybody is extremely happy for him, because he has been out for 10 months, that is an eternity for a player. We work very hard, our medical team, our fitness team, to bring him back so strong. Let’s not forget he has not played one minute for us, he has just played 45 minutes in the under-21s.
The player himself described his emotions, thanked the Arsenal medical staff and discussed his goal having made such a stunning immediate impact on his return to first-team duty when he spoke to Arsenal Player after the game. Welbeck said:
It’s been a long time off the pitch, the longest period of time that I’ve spent off playing matches in my career. It’s difficult, and with a few headlosses along the way. I think you’ve just got to try to stay positive. I had a lot of great help behind the scenes with the medical staff and with James Haycock, who worked with me personally and was great. I think hard work eventually pays off. It was a wonderful feeling to get that winning goal at the end. It was just very important for us to get the three points. With the type of game it was, it was close right until the end and thankfully we got the goal. As soon as I saw Mesut line it up, I just tried to get myself into a nice position, in behind the line of defence. Thankfully it came in my direction and I got the right glance on it. I don’t even know what I was doing [afterwards], the facials were going crazy! I’ve seen a couple [of pictures] and it was just euphoria after and I jumped in the crowd.
It’s been a while since the players and indeed the our fans have celebrated a goal quite so wildly and it was really pleasing to see further evidence of just how united our squad are in the pursuit of prizes this season.
I mean, Theo Walcott, Danny Welbeck and Olivier Giroud are, in effect, direct rivals for one starting place when everybody’s fit but as they showed yesterday, there’s not even a hint of Cristiano-esque jealousy at a team-mate scoring an important goal, or thinly veiled Debuchy-type resentment at another player usurping them for a starting spot. Just pure, collective delight at the team taking a step closer to their end-goal of winning a league title.
Arsene’s often ridiculed for over-using the word ‘spirit’ when praising his side but there genuinely seems to be a squad-wide unity fueling our title challenge this season and it’s very encouraging. They’re all pulling in the same direction – with a bit of luck and a few more moments like Welbeck’s in the 94th minute yesterday, that direction will lead to our first Premier League crown in 12 years.