Danny Welbeck is determined to finally show what he can do in an Arsenal shirt after three years of frustration, writes John Cross in Sydney.
Striker Welbeck has enjoyed some good times as a Gunner, winning the FA Cup twice, but has also been dogged by injuries.
The England international, who joined from Manchester United in 2014, missed two large chunks with a knee problem that also ruled him out of the Euros last summer. But, after starring in May’s FA Cup final win over champions Chelsea, Welbeck is going into this pre-season fully fit and raring to go following a stop-start three years in north London.
Welbeck, who played in Thursday’s 2-0 win over Sydney FC here, said: “It’s been frustrating, I’ve spoken about it in the past and it’s not nice.
“Obviously you’ve got to deal with the injuries but that’s behind me now and I’ve got to kick on. I’ve got to build a base for pre-season and hopefully stay injury-free for the season.
“I haven’t had the best of luck with injuries, it’s hindered my progression and where I want to be but hopefully I can stay injury-free and really show what I can do.
“It’s been a couple of years, it’s obviously nice to be fit for pre-season. I’m fit, not match fit, but going into it injury-free is good for me. Build a base, I can build on that for the rest of the season.
“I got fit last season but you also have to take your time with it and build up steadily through the levels and to be back out here in a pre-season, my first pre-season for three years.”
Welbeck knows that he now faces increased competition for forward places, with the arrival of £52million club-record signing Alexandre Lacazette.
But the 26-year-old is up for the challenge — and believes Arsenal are in with a shout in what he feels is the most open title race for years.
He added: “I think from when I was a little boy playing in the academy, you’ve always got competition wherever you may be and it’s something you learn to deal with and you just want to keep on improving. It makes you hungrier.
“I think it’s going to be an exciting season. There’s a lot of strong teams, a lot of teams making great additions to their squads. It’s one that will be an exciting season, one that we’re ready for and one we’re looking forward to.”