Dat Guy Welbz.
From Manchester United’s young prodigy to Arsenal’s clever bit of business, and then sadly on to the gym’s most avid user.
It’s fair to say injuries have been desperately unfair to Danny Welbeck in recent years. Suffering four long-term injuries with the Gunners that ranged from 122 days on the sidelines to 238 days out of action, lady luck has failed to shed her fortune on the Mancunian.
All of that means that on Tuesday evening, there was nobody outside of Norfolk that didn’t (at least) show a glimpse of their teeth when Welbeck flung himself into the air and struck a glorious overhead kick beyond a helpless Tim Krul.
As one of football’s nice guys, seeing the 29-year-old score his first league goal since August 2018 after such a torrid spell was a moment to savour. It’s hard not to feel joy for a player so hopelessly beset by injuries that we probably never saw the best, and never will see the best, of his abilities.
It was for Arsenal against West Ham when Welbeck last scored in the Premier League, an injury time third to secure a 3-1 win in Unai Emery’s first victory in charge of the club. In other words, it was a very long time ago.
Onto the actual goal, though: wowzers.
Something in the Watford water is clearly having an impact on Nigel Pearson’s squad, who in their last three home Premier League matches have scored two rather sumptuous overhead kicks. Craig Dawson (mad, right?) and now Welbeck – 67% of goals scored by Watford players since February were overhead kicks.
The intuition and application of the strike along was beautiful, but everything that goal entailed made the strike all the more sweeter. Namely, it might be the goal to keep Watford in the Premier League.
Having been behind against the Canaries, Pearson’s men drew level, but it was that moment of inspiration from Welbeck that sealed the win, and potentially, their top flight status. Those three points opened up a four-point gap – having played an extra game – over Aston Villa and Bournemouth in the bottom three, but with Manchester United and Tottenham to come next for the pair, they might maintain that.
If so, then Pearson will be credited with performing another Great Escape. But, just like Charles Bronson in the 1963 epic, he won’t have survived all by himself.
The help he’s been receiving on the way has been spread throughout the team, although with Welbeck’s intervention, it becomes a more touching affair.
Whether Watford can stay up is far from certain, but the general feeling around the camp now is distinctly more hopeful, and six points against Newcastle and West Ham may very well seal the deal.
Welbeck’s goal will go a long way towards preserving their status. It (basically) condemned a relegation rival to the second tier, and the confidence boost for Welbeck – who’d scored just once for the club in an Carabao Cup clash prior to Tuesday – may be just what they needed.
For more from Ross Kennerley, follow him on Twitter!