Football

No regrets selling 
Welbeck: Van Gaal

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal will not rue selling Danny Welbeck to Arsenal, as the England striker prepares to face his former club.

Welbeck, 23, has scored 10 goals in 20 appearances for club and country since being allowed to leave for £16 million ($32.7m) on transfer-deadline day in September.

The Manchester-born forward will come up against his old teammates for the first time when United visit the Emirates Stadium tomorrow morning (Singapore time) for the standout Premier League clash of the weekend.

Dutchman van Gaal (above) attributes Welbeck's success at Arsenal to being a regular in their first team, after he was made to wait for opportunities during his time at United.

"I think that a player who is playing mostly fixed in the team, he develops and always will," van Gaal said.

BENEFIT

"He takes all the benefit from playing every week. That was a question mark with Manchester United. It's good to see he's doing what I thought."

Van Gaal accepted that Welbeck would enjoy scoring against his old club, much like United's ex-Arsenal forward Robin van Persie has when he has found the net against the team he left in 2012.

"This is the football world," van Gaal said. "Van Persie has scored already three goals against Arsenal as a United player. That's life, believe me."

Meanwhile, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has warned that he cannot offer guarantees of a place in the starting 11 to Welbeck or anyone else in his squad.

Welbeck is expected to overcome a minor hamstring problem suffered on international duty to face his former club at the Emirates Stadium.

France forward Olivier Giroud is back in contention following three months out with a broken leg.

Theo Walcott may be ruled out because of a groin problem, but Alexis Sanchez, who has been in great form since a summer move from Barcelona, offers another option in attack.

Germany international Lukas Podolski is another frustrated by a lack of first-team opportunities, but Wenger insists that is all part and parcel of competition at a leading club.

"You can only select 11 players. We have an abundance of offensive players at the moment," said Wenger.

"Some of them do not get the chance to play, and it is frustrating for them, which I can understand. Unfortunately you always (have to) make a decision on that front."

Asked whether Giroud faced a battle to regain his position, Wenger said: "There is always a fight because we have a lot of offensive options.

"Welbeck can play in different positions up front and there is room for both of them to start in some games. Of course it is a fight."

Wenger suggested that there would be no concessions made on who was to be the leading forward.

"One of the main reasons (Welbeck signed) was that he wanted to play. We spoke about that and that was one of the main reasons why he came here. (To play as a central striker) was not a condition, it was just that he plays," he said.

OUTSTANDING

"You have goalscoring records which are absolutely outstanding from players who play wide or central, that is not the problem. When you are a player, you want to play."

Arsenal versus Man United used to be one of the highlights of the season, but is now seen as a contest between two sides set to battle it out for a top-four finish rather than the title itself.

"I am sure that will not last. You have to look further than the table and look at the quality of the players. I think it's a very exciting game to watch," said Wenger, with Arsenal in sixth and United seventh.

"Apart from Chelsea, it is very tight and there are 27 games still to be played, so it is too early to make such an assessment." 
- Wire Services.

FIXTURES

TONIGHT (11pm)

  • Chelsea v West Brom
  • Everton v West Ham
  • Leicester v Sunderland
  • Man City v Swansea
  • Newcastle v QPRStoke v Burnley

TOMORROW

  • 1.30am: Arsenal v Man United
  • 9.30pm: Crystal Palace v Liverpool
  • 11.55pm: Hull v Tottenham

TUESDAY

  • 30am: Aston Villa v Southampton