Arsenal striker Danny Welbeck will miss the chance to haunt former club Manchester United for a second time this season after being ruled out of Sunday’s Premier League game at Old Trafford with a knee injury, manager Arsene Wenger said.
The 24-year-old, who has scored eight goals for Arsenal since joining for 16 million pounds ($25.2 million) last year, scored the winner in the Gunners’ 2-1 FA Cup quarter-final victory at Old Trafford in March.
But England international Welbeck, who made started brightly at the Emirates but has since gone off the boil playing in an unfavoured wide position, has missed Arsenal’s last two matches through injury.
“Welbeck is short a fraction but is not far away from returning,” Wenger told a news conference on Friday.
“I would have loved to have him available but we will have to do without him.”
Arsenal’s hopes of a second-placed finish took a hit on Monday after a 1-0 defeat by Swansea but Wenger’s side, who have 70 points from 35 matches, still boast a game in hand on Manchester City who are three points ahead.
Fourth-placed United are two points behind Arsenal having played a game more and Wenger believes victory at Old Trafford would be another crucial part of his side’s development.
“Our recent away form has been very strong and that’s always a sign of a team who is in progress,” Wenger said. “To win at Old Trafford again would convince us that we have the strength and help us be stronger next season.
“Mathematically, we can put a distance between them and us in the top four and basically secure top three.
“There is a symbolic statement, because we want to win the FA Cup and, psychologically, winning this weekend and securing third would be very important for this.
“Against Manchester United, you expect a game of quality first, but we want to bounce back from defeat to Swansea straight away and put a good performance in, with a good result. A win would be great.”