Welbeck criticism wide of the mark, says Wenger
Danny Welbeck celebrates scoring for Arsenal
LONDON: Striker Danny Welbeck is playing an important role in Arsenal's season despite being moved into an unpreferred wide role, manager Arsene Wenger said on Friday.
Arsenal face Welbeck's former club Manchester United in the FA Cup quarterfinals on Monday and the England international is again likely to be shunted out to the flank, just as he often was during his time at Old Trafford.
After joining Arsenal for 16 million pounds ($24.3 million) last year his chances of playing in his preferred central position have been limited since Olivier Giroud returned from injury in November to score nine league goals in 15 matches.
"He's (Welbeck) very important and has played many, many games since the start of the season," Wenger told a news conference.
"I think he's played in nearly every single game. His position is one of the three up front -- central, left or right. He can play anywhere.
"He's one of the players who has played the most games for us, but not in the last couple of games. You have moments in the season where some players play a bit less.
Welbeck made a fast start to his career at the Emirates but the 24-year-old has only bagged a mediocre seven goals in 26 games.
"Most of the time it's up front because not every single player can play every game in the biggest part of the season," Wenger said.
"You have a player like Olivier Giroud who is playing at the moment but he missed four months. During that period Welbeck played every single game.
"He plays very well for me and is an exceptional player who will have a great future here. I am very, very happy that I bought him," Wenger added.