Arsenal manager Unai Emery admitted Danny Welbeck could solve the Gunners’ left-back woes. Despite having Sead Kolasinac, Nacho Monreal and Ainsley Maitland-Niles as options in the role, Emery only has one fit player in Maitland-Niles, who himself in still inexperienced.
The new boss said in his press conference that Welbeck could be called upon this season, although he may not start against Manchester City. Emery revealed: “Nacho Monreal began to train with the team. As well, Danny Welbeck has come in this week but on Sunday it will be too early to start playing him.
“Danny has multi-position possibilities – right winger, left winger, striker. And, yesterday, he worked with us at left back. His performance was good. The other players are okay, and we are working on the possibility to work with Ainsley, who has experience in this position.”
Welbeck’s future at Arsenal was uncertain this summer due to the competition for a starting place in attack. With Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Mesut Ozil, Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for options in the final third, Welbeck stands little chance of getting in ahead of them.
However, his industrious nature and unselfish attitude on the pitch could lead Emery to try the England international in a different position. Kolasinac is currently injured while Monreal hasn’t featured for Arsenal in pre-season, so Welbeck might be the best option available.
Kolasinac is expected to be sidelined until October after picking up the knee injury earlier in the month. The club’s official statement said up to ten weeks. Welbeck has spent most of his career as a centre-forward and left-sided inside forward. He has high levels of work rate and is always happy to track back, so he has some attributes that could see him shine as a left-back or left wing-back.
When Monreal raises his levels of fitness, he’s likely to be in contention again. Kolasinac will also return in two months, so Arsenal won’t have too long to wait to get their first-choice options back. Maitland-Niles could be the one who starts in Sunday’s opener against Manchester City and could be in for a difficult afternoon.
Arsenal have lost their last three meetings with the Sky Blues, conceding three in each game, but the players will be desperate to put on a show at home for their new manager. Welbeck might be a short-term option at the back to make good of a bad situation, but could Maitland-Niles start against City?