What Martin Keown said about Danny Welbeck vs Ostersunds

Arsenal and their players probably weren’t looking forward to a trip to Ostersunds in the Europa League.

Having watched Premier League rivals Tottenham, Liverpool and Manchester City achieve brilliant results in the Champions League, Arsene Wenger took his side to play the Swedish minnows in freezing temperatures.

In fact, it was below freezing with it being a reported -4C inside the stadium during the match.

And Ostersunds tried their best to tease Arsenal ahead of the match by joking that they used igloos as changing rooms.

They might not have actually been igloos but they would have felt like it.

The 4G pitch probably didn’t help matters, either.

The surface is often criticised by some professionals for causing injuries.

And BT Sport pundits Martin Keown and Jermaine Jenas believe it had an impact on Danny Welbeck’s performance.

Welbeck started up-front for Wenger’s side with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang cup-tied and Alexandre Lacazette sidelined with a knee injury.

But the England international struggled to make much of an impact during the 3-0 victory.


And Keown and Jenas think they know why – the pitch.

“When a player is coming back from the very bad injuries that he’s had, I think he’s just wanting to get through the game unscathed,” Keown said.

“He said the pitch was ‘hard’  

“He’s really devoid of confidence at the moment. It was a difficult night for him.

“[Saman] Ghoddos the opposition striker was probably a better player tonight than Danny Welbeck.”

And Jenas agreed.

“I think the more games he gets the more he’ll improve,” Jenas said.

“I’ve been in a situation where I ruptured my Achilles and being asked to train on a 3G pitch and you’re half going “anything could happen here” so I feel for him.

“These pitches do have their risks.

“I think he was a bit worried tonight, you could tell by his interview afterwards, maybe it’s just in his head, I don’t blame him at all, it was about getting through the game for him and then kicking on.

“He’s not had one operation, he’s had two serious ones. The mental side is the toughest part and trusting his body again but that will come.”

Keown then added: “I think he mentioned it in every answer that he gave but at some point he has to realise that he’s done the rehabilitation, the knees can stand up to everything, and get out there and do his job, forget about his body and when you’ve got that in your mind, it’s very difficult to be as effective as he needs to be.

“I genuinely believe the player is in pain.”

It’s certainly an interesting observation and one that explains why Welbeck wasn’t at his best against Ostersund on Thursday night.

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