Football

Welbeck to be eased in

Confident in depth and quality of squad, Wenger rules out deadline-day signings

ARSENAL WATFORD

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is wary of overworking striker Danny Welbeck because of fears the England striker could suffer a setback, having recently returned from a long-term knee injury.

After three substitute appearances, Welbeck marked his first start of the season by scoring two goals in Arsenal's 5-0 demolition of Southampton in the FA Cup fourth round on Saturday.

"Welbeck is very sharp, but he's not out of it completely," Wenger said yesterday.

"We have to be cautious. Physically, he's ready, but we have to manage the times we use him."

Wenger said Welbeck is unlikely to feature in tomorrow morning's (Singapore time) English Premier League clash against 14th-placed Watford.

"I don't know how we will use him after three days, he's a bit short for that," he said.

Wenger made 10 changes for the Southampton game and the Frenchman is confident his squad have enough depth to compete on all fronts.

He believes he has no need to make any last-ditch signings in the January transfer window.

Theo Walcott scored a hat-trick against his former club Southampton, with Welbeck adding the Gunners' other two goals as Wenger rested the likes of Petr Cech, Laurent Koscielny, Mesut Oezil and Alexis Sanchez.

Those four players are all set to return tomorrow, when Arsenal, who are second in the EPL, will look to close an eight-point gap to leaders Chelsea.

Wenger, who will be serving the second of a four-match touchline ban against the Hornets at the Emirates, told Arsenal fans not to expect any new arrivals between now and Wednesday's (Singapore time) transfer deadline.

"It's not just about buying players, you have to have a need in your squad first of all," said Wenger.

"I believe that number-wise and quality-wise, we have what is required to do well.

"Now it's down to us to perform and to produce with the quality of our focus, the quality of our ambition and desire to produce the performance in every single game."

The only player Arsenal have brought in during the transfer window is 20-year-old defender Cohen Bramall, who joined from non-league Hednesford Town for £40,000 (S$71,500).

"On our front, we have a big squad," Wenger said.

"We are not in need of buying. On a general front, it has been very quiet.

"That shows that there are not many players available who can strengthen English teams.

"It also shows that all the teams in England, especially the big teams, have big squads. That's why not a lot happened."

Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema has been linked with a move to the north London side, but only "because he is French," said Wenger.

"And maybe there are some noises that he would leave Real but, as I just told you, there is no need for us to buy any strikers.

"In the summer window? That's not my worry at the moment. My worry is the next game against Watford." - WIRE SERVICES

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