Van Gaal publicly stated that Welbeck was not up to the level required to become one of the Red Devils’ first-choice centre-forwards, telling reporters: “Yes, Danny Welbeck was here from when he was nine. He has played, after Sunderland, three seasons at Manchester United but he doesn’t have the record of [Robin] Van Persie or [Wayne] Rooney and that is the standard.
“That is why we let him go – because of Falcao but also the youngsters who can fit in.”
Reports in the weeks before Welbeck’s departure claimed that Van Gaal planned to relegate the Manchester-born forward to fifth-choice striker at Old Trafford, behind Falcao, Rooney, Van Persie and 18-year-old starlet James Wilson.
But Welbeck is flourishing at the Emirates Stadium and took his tally to four goals from his first five Arsenal appearances with a superb hat-trick against Galatasaray on Wednesday night.
Welbeck hits out at Van Gaal
And the striker, who now earns £105,000-a-week with the Gunners, hinted that Van Gaal was wrong to judge his ability as a striker due to the fact he spent most of his Manchester United career playing from the left wing.
"Nobody can really criticise my finishing because they don't really see me playing in a forward position too often,” he is quoted as saying by the Daily Star. "But now I am getting into these positions I want to be sticking the ball in the back of the net.
"Obviously people can say I've not scored enough goals, but you stick the best strikers on the wing in a four-man midfield and see if they score goals.
"If you're getting goals and getting a run of games in your preferred position, your confidence is going to grow and performances are going to grow as well.
"That is something I am really looking forward to doing, building on those performances.”
Welbeck has not changed his game
Despite his impressive recent goalscoring form, Welbeck insists that he doesn’t feel his game has changed at all. He simply believes that he is benefitting from being deployed in his natural position.
"I wouldn't say I feel different,” he added. “Maybe beforehand, sometimes I wasn't getting through on goal if I was coming from a four-man midfield.
"Obviously it's difficult to leave your position and go and get goal-scoring opportunities.
"But I'm getting into these positions much more regularly now, and I'm looking forward to sticking the ball in the back of the net."
Can Welbeck fire Arsenal to victory over Chelsea?
Welbeck will now be assigned the task of scoring Arsenal’s first goal against Chelsea since January 2013 when the two sides meet at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
The Gunners have failed to record a win over their London rivals since October 2011, while Jose Mourinho’s side humiliated Arsenal 6-0 in this very fixture last season.
But Arsenal have displayed an unfamiliar resilience this season and, with Welbeck and company heading into the match full of confidence, certainly have the potential to spring a surprise in west London this weekend.