Danny Welbeck key to Arsenal's Champions League hopes

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Danny Welbeck put his recent goalscoring troubles behind him with the winner over West Ham United at Upton Park on Sunday, and must now hit the goal trail if his side are to maintain some momentum over the next month. 

The England forward, who joined the North London side from Manchester United on transfer deadline day, is too often criticised for his failure to score with consistency, but with Arsene Wenger's men facing key clashes away at Southampton and Manchester City in January must now step up and deliver. 

Momentum building

With injuries having depleted them for much of the season, the Gunners' will be grateful to be heading into next year in fifth place, level on points with Ronald Koeman's high-flying Southampton. 

After winning the FA Cup back in May and ending their nine-year wait for silverware, they had been expected to hit the ground running and compete with City and Jose Mourinho's Chelsea for the Premier League title.

However they have been sluggish and lacklustre to date, but recent victories over the Hammers and Queens Park Rangers have them back in similar territory and perfectly primed to crank up the pressure on their rivals next year.

Welbeck and Olivier Giroud have struggled to regularly hit the back of the net, with much of the goalscoring responsibility falling on the shoulders of Alexis Sanchez who has been marvellous since signing from Barcelona back in the summer. 

Determined Danny

With Louis Van Gaal making the decision to sell the 24-year-old and replace him with Radamel Falcao, Welbeck must now prove why the Dutchman has made a serious mistake.

He is a striker who flourishes with confidence and, after not registering a single goal for nearly a month, will now be aiming to kick on and fire his side further towards the Champions League positions. 

Southampton's momentum has stalled in recent weeks but a 1-1 draw against Chelsea at St Mary's shows that they still represent a genuine threat to Wenger's seasonal aspirations, whilst City continue to power on despite squandering a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Sean Dyche's struggling Burnley. 

Life at the Emirates Stadium has been tough but, with a goal in the last game of 2014 to his name, the England forward will be hopeful of finding the net with added frequency next year and ensuring they finish in the top four come the end of the season in May. 

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Danny Welbeck
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