There were more than a few Manchester United fans concerned when Danny Welbeck was allowed to join Arsenal in the summer transfer window for £16 million.
The England international may not have the greatest goal record ever but his incredible work-rate and ability to make space for others had endeared him to the Old Trafford faithful. The fact he'd come up through the ranks in Manchester only sweetened the deal.
However the blow was softened by the fact that a certain world class striker named Radamel Falcao arrived from Monaco on deadline day too. Gone was the local lad, in came the internationally renowned forward who could fire the Red Devils up the table. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, time has told a slightly different story. Falcao has struggled for form and fitness, while Welbeck has settled in well at Arsenal, although his goal tally remains below what it should be. At the time Van Gaal was adamant that Welbeck didn't have the sufficient quality to mix it with the likes of Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and of course Falcao. But has he been proved right so far?
Of course Falcao's fitness troubles are well documented and he's been dropped for some high-profile games including against Liverpool, with James Wilson taking his place. However, despite playing over 500 minutes less than Welbeck he's managed the same amount of goals (4). He's also laid on two more assists too. He's even managed his goals from 18 less shots too and is 12% more accurate with his shots. Pretty conclusive, right?
Well not so fast. Welbeck's problems in front of goal are well documented and in all other areas it is the English forward who has the edge. He's completed more passes (445 to 293), 14 more successful take-ons, makes more tackles 20 to 6) and crucially creates more chances (27 to 13).
Although there is still time for Falcao to turn his season around and make his loan move permanent, the stats actually suggest that he's doing pretty well when given the chance. His shot accuracy is better than Rooney and Van Persie's, and his goals-per-90 minutes is competitive too.
It seems that Van Gaal made a choice over the summer to add a striker who provides goals and not much else instead of keeping Welbeck to add more balance to his attack. The stats show exactly that, however it will take the rest of the season to prove whether he was right ot wrong.
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