LONDON, Oct 1 (Reuters) - Danny Welbeck answered critics who have questioned his goalscoring ability in emphatic fashion on Wednesday with his first senior hat-trick in Arsenal’s 4-1 win over Galatasaray in the Champions League.
The 23-year-old England international has impressed with his work rate and link-up play since signing from Manchester United on transfer deadline day, but doubts remained about his predatory instinct in front of goal.
He scored during a 3-0 Premier League win against Aston Villa last month but spurned a host of chances in his three other appearances before the visit of the Turkish side.
Yet he produced three exquisite finishes at the Emirates that helped belie his supposed lack of composure and ruthlessness.
So much time has elapsed since Welbeck’s last hat-trick, he forgot to collect the match ball - customary for a player after scoring three times in a game.
“I forgot the match ball! I’ll get it after. I‘m not used to it,” Welbeck joked on Sky Sports.
”My last hat-trick was for (Manchester) United’s reserves ... I‘m trying to score goals. I‘m playing up front and trying to score goals and get into goalscoring positions and it is paying off.
”I‘m obviously delighted to get the goals. The last (goal) was the hardest because I was stretching out a bit. I’ve been in that position a few times and chipped the keeper and sometimes it comes off and sometimes it doesn‘t.
”Today I saw him coming out and I thought to chip it round him and it slid in.
“The most important thing is that we got our three points on the board. We needed that after the first game in the group (a 2-0 defeat against Borussia Dortmund).”
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, celebrating his 18th anniversary since taking over the north London club, praised the 16 million pounds acquisition.
“That instinct of a goalscorer (in Welbeck) was more aggressive and he finished well with the work of the team,” the Frenchman told Sky Sports.
“He has such good pace it gives him time to finish calmly. Once the players understand that, the finishing improves a lot.”
Another of Arsenal’s close-season signings, Chilean forward Alexis Sanchez, who provided Welbeck’s first goal and scored their third, impressed with his energy and skill in a vibrant performance.
When asked if it was the former Barcelona player’s best performance of his fledgling Arsenal career, Wenger said: “Yes. He played well and made some good passes. I think he had a very good performance.”
Arsenal, who have three points from two games and are second in the group behind Dortmund with six points, face table-topping Chelsea in the Premier League on Sunday.
Writing by Tom Hayward