Arsenal striker Danny Welbeck admits playing against Manchester United was hard - but says he was just doing his job by scoring the winning goal against his former employers during Monday night’s FA Cup quarter-final clash at Old Trafford.
The England international netted the winning goal just after the hour mark - capitalising on a poor back-pass by United right-back Antonio Valencia - to book Arsenal’s place in the semi-finals for the second consecutive year.
Welbeck celebrated his goal and was subsequently jeered by the United faithful after being substituted by manager Arsene Wenger with 15 minutes of the match remaining, but the 24-year-old Manchester-born forward says it was his duty to remain professional.
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Welbeck: I stayed professional
“It was about being professional, keeping my focus and motivation,” Welbeck told Arsenal’s official website after the match. “I kept plugging away and then got on the end of Antonio Valencia’s backpass, beat David de Gea and got the winning goal. I’m just really pleased we’re through to the next round.
“I stayed professional and I was just doing my job. To be able to get back on the scoresheet and get through to the next round is the most important thing.”
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Welbeck: It was hard for me
Prior to his celebration, Welbeck was applauded by large sections of the Old Trafford faithful, who offered the striker a warm welcome back to the club.
“It was a great reception,” Welbeck admitted. “It was hard for me but I tried to be respectful.”
Welbeck delighted with win
And while Welbeck is pleased he was able to score the winning goal, he admits the most important thing is that the Gunners are through to the next round, where they will face the winners of the FA Cup quarter-final replay between Bradford City and Reading at Wembley next month.
“It’s good for the team that we’re through to the next round, in the semi-finals at Wembley,” Welbeck added. “To get the goal was good for me but it was all about the team performance tonight.”
Welbeck's celebration directed towards Van Gaal?
One suspects Welbeck’s passionate celebration may have been directed towards United boss Louis van Gaal, rather than the Red Devils’ supporters.
Van Gaal told Welbeck he was surplus to requirements last summer - informing him he would be behind Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, Radamel Falcao and even James Wilson in the pecking order at Old Trafford - which led to the shock move to Arsenal.
After the match Van Gaal stubbornly insisted that he has no regrets about swapping Welbeck for Falcao, who has only managed to score a disappointing four goals in 20 appearances since arriving on a season-long loan from AS Monaco at the start of the season.
The majority of Manchester United fans would probably disagree after last night’s game.
Arsenal fans: were you pleased to see Welbeck celebrate passionately after scoring against United? Do you think your side will now win the FA Cup? Have your say in the comments below!
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