Danny Welbeck delivered the perfect riposte to Paul Merson on Wednesday evening, with the Arsenal striker scoring an impressive hat-trick against Galatasaray after being compared to the much maligned Emile Heskey by the Sky Sports pundit.
From Heskey to Henry
Merson was providing analysis ahead of the Arsenal encounter with the Turkish giants when he made the far from complimentary comparison, claiming Welbeck fails to offer much of a threat when his side are not performing, something that Heskey was also guilty of.
But, almost inevitably, Merson was soon made to eat his words. Within 30 minutes of the game starting, Welbeck had already scored twice, the second goal a particularly nice finish, as Arsenal cruised into a 3-0 half-time lead.
Welbeck went on to record a hat-trick, his first as a professional, lifting delicately over Fernando Muslera for a third goal, and his transformation from Emile Heskey to Thierry Henry was complete in less than an hour.
While Tony Gale, co-commentating for the night, mentioning Welbeck in the same breath as Arsenal’s record goalscorer was somewhat over the top, it was certainly a performance that offered great encouragement.
Faith and time
Welbeck will benefit immensely from the run of games he will get playing as a central striker in the absence of Olivier Giroud, and his movement against Galatasaray indicated that his game is already improving.
The 23-year-old would have never been afforded this opportunity at Manchester United, and while his £16 million departure from Old Trafford may have been questioned, it was inevitable that he would eventually leave for pastures new.
Manchester United’s willingness to sell to a direct rival should rightly be scrutinised, although the sale itself is justifiable. Louis van Gaal could not offer Welbeck the time and faith he requires, but Arsene Wenger can and will.
Not only will this be the benefit of Arsenal, but also England - something demonstrated by Welbeck’s two-goal salvo in the win over Switzerland. He will continue to improve for club and country, and one England great is excited by what the youngster could achieve.
Gary Lineker, who knows all about goalscoring, tweeted on Wednesday: “Welbeck has a serious talent. Lovely to watch him play centrally. Good movement, excellent touch, bags of pace, enormous potential.”
Welbeck is in the England squad for next week's Euro 2016 qualifiers with San Marino and Estonia.
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