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Unai Emery admitted that Danny Welbeck’s future is out of his hands after the Arsenal striker offered a timely reminder of his quality in a 3-1 EFL Cup win over Brentford.
Welbeck scored twice in the first half, a powerful header and close-range finish to wrap off a superb counter attack, to give the Gunners a safety net to survive a second half onslaught from their visitors before Alexandre Lacazette’s late winner.
The goals were Welbeck’s third and fourth of the season after only six appearances, four of which have been off the substitutes’ bench.
The 27-year-old’s contract at Arsenal expires at the end of the season and he is believed to have been made available before the transfer market closed last month.
Since then he has set about proving his worth, though Emery would only say he was “very happy” with Welbeck’s performances when asked directly whether he wanted to keep the forward at the club.
The Arsenal head coach said: “There are three situations when we are speaking with the individual: the club, the player and the team. My focus is the team.
“I know they have a year left on their contracts and are speaking with the club but for me the focus is only on the performance, each match and training session.
“Their future is important but it’s like that. The performance and commitment of the player is very high: Aaron [Ramsey, who is also in the final season of his deal] and Welbeck.
“The situation with the club is for them.”
Whether Welbeck’s long-term future lies at Arsenal or elsewhere, he can be optimistic of further chances in Emery’s side if he replicates tonight’s display, in which his incision in front of goal was coupled with admirable work-rate and pressing when Brentford had possession.
“Welbeck is working with commitment and putting in performances like today,” Emery told Standard Sport. “He’s helping the team, we want this. We have more options for the first XI when he plays like he did today.”
He added: Tonight was a good performance by every player, Danny’s two goals helped us and for Saturday he’s another player I can try to help in the first XI.
“He’s doing very well and playing with a big commitment. I want the first XI to show their performances and have good players when I look back [at the substitutes bench].”