Dubai: While Arsenal have been involved in a season-long battle to secure a top-four spot in the Premier League under new manager Unai Emery after Arsene Wenger’s exit, frontman Danny Welbeck has been fighting his own personal battle.
The Gunners and England forward has been ruled out for the season after he broke his ankle in the Europa League clash against Sporting in November and now faces the long road back to full fitness and the fight for a starting place in Emery’s team.
But his hunger and positivity are as apparent as ever and he is relishing the fight ahead. “My main aim is to get back fit as soon as possible but make sure we do it the right way and don’t rush it as that could put us back to square one,” he said on the sidelines of a surprise appearance at the Arsenal Soccer School in Dubai as he continues his recuperation.
My main aim is to get back fit as soon as possible but make sure we do it the right way and don’t rush it as that could put us back to square one.
“It can be a struggle on your own, but during rehab and light training I have had Rob (Holding, the Arsenal defender who ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament in December) for company and although his injury is different to mine, we are there to push each other on and keep each other motivated. It can be lonely on your own so it’s great that we can get through it together. Also as a team, everyone has been there for me and I’m sure I’ll get through it very soon.”
Arsenal are locked in a battle with faltering Chelsea and revitalised Manchester United for the fourth and final Champions League spot in the Premier League standings, with just one point separating the three teams. Welbeck fancies the Gunners’ chances of finishing best of the rest behind defending champions Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur.
“We have a new boss and it is a transition period for everyone at the club,” he said. “It is important that we keep together and make sure we are heading in the right direction. We need progression as quickly as possible but make sure we are doing it the right way and don’t rush anything.
“Looking at the games coming up and the standard of all the teams in the Premier League, it is important to win every single game. Even those who are fighting for relegation are fighting for their lives now and will be looking to cause an upset.
“So we just have to take it game by game and take it as it comes and see where we end up. The guys are all positive and we are confident we can make it.”
Welbeck, whose Arsenal contract is up in the summer, was involved in England’s march to the World Cup semi-finals in Russia last summer but with the European Championship qualifiers looming, he is just focusing on his rehabilitation and taking things one step at a time.
“First and foremost, I’ve got to get fit, and if I perform at my best those things will take care of themselves,” he said. “We will see how everything goes.”
As for who will win the Premier League title this year, Welbeck is keeping his thoughts to himself: “I know who I want to win but I can’t say.”