First Team 08/08/2019

Team News: Brighton

By Kevin Affleck

Gerard Deulofeu is fit and raring to go for the season opener against Brighton & Hove Albion, says Javi Gracia.

The Spaniard, who won the Goal of the Season and Individual Performance of the Season awards last season, has not been seen in action since the first half of the game against Bayer Leverkusen in Austria, but he has recovered from a muscle problem and is ready to face the Seagulls at Vicarage Road on Saturday.

"He is perfect," said Gracia. "He had a little problem and it was two weeks ago. He's had time to recover and has been able to train with the team from the beginning of the week. He's ready."

Roberto Pereyra is also in the mix to play some part after being eased back in after an extended summer break. Gracia and his medical staff have been keen to manage the playmaker's load after he spent most of the summer training with Argentina for their Copa America campaign.

"Roberto was ready from the beginning but he needed time as he came late," said the Head Coach. "He is ready but he just needs time because this is only his second week of pre-season. He's not in his best physical condition but he can still help the team by playing some minutes."

Unavailable to the Head Coach this week are Nathaniel Chalobah, Adalberto Peñaranda, Domingos Quina and Dimitri Foulquier. 

"Foulquier has a problem in his calf because he picked up a knock," said Gracia. "Peñaranda is training but not with the team. Domingos has a muscle problem and Chalo needs some time to recover after the work he has done in pre-season. Next week they will be ready."

New signing Danny Welbeck will not play any part as his return to action is being carefully planned by the medical team as he works his way back from a long injury.

"He is in good condition and maybe if you ask me next week, I can tell you something more," said Gracia.

First Team 08/08/2019

Expert View: Watts On Welbeck

Charles Watts, Arsenal correspondent for, runs the rules over Watford’s new signing Danny Welbeck.

Danny Welbeck seemed to be a popular figure at Arsenal – how did the supporters react to news he was leaving at the end of last season?

He was a really, really popular player at Arsenal and it was such a shame. Everyone felt really gutted the way it ended for him. There was a feeling that it could’ve been worth giving him a new contract. Maybe it was a wise move to let him go and carry on his career elsewhere because at Arsenal you already have Lacazette and Aubameyang in his position, but personally I think it would’ve been worth keeping him and giving him a new deal.

What were his greatest strengths?

He provided an awful lot of versatility, he can play as a striker or wide on the left, and Arsenal really missed him when he got injured. It was a big blow because when he was fit he was a real asset. You won’t hear anyone say a bad word about him among the fans or the players. Behind-the-scenes he was really popular with the staff, he never stops smiling and he’s an infectious character so it’s impossible not to like him. He has a brilliant work-rate, he never ever stops running and he gives you everything. 

Where do you believe is his best position?

He can play up front but because of his work ethic and his running, when he plays over on the left I think he’s excellent. For me, his best performance for Arsenal was probably in the FA Cup final win against Chelsea. He played on the left and he was just brilliant. He ran Chelsea ragged, he got up and down the wing, his movement was great and he was pacey, and I do like him in that position. I think he offers you an awful lot there.

What were the highlights of his Arsenal career?

Other than the FA Cup final, it's probably the last-minute winner against Leicester in his first game back after being injured for a year. Arsenal were chasing Leicester at the top of the table at the time. It was an injury time winner and I think that’s up there as one of the greatest Arsenal moments since they moved to the Emirates. It’s up there with Arshavin’s goal against Barcelona. I was among the fans and I’ll never forget the celebrations. It was a brilliant moment and everyone at Arsenal will remember Danny Welbeck for that goal. There was also the goal up at Old Trafford in the FA Cup quarter-final when he scored the winner on his first game back at Manchester United. That was another real special memory.

Welbeck says he spoke to other clubs in England and abroad, so why do you think he chose Watford?

We all knew he would have an awful lot of clubs to choose from given his experience. He was always going to have his pick of a lot of clubs across Europe and I think Watford is a great move for him. He doesn’t have to move, for a start, he can carry on with the same routine he’s had the last few years. It’s a really good move for him – Watford are a club that are going places and have a really good, strong squad which I think he’ll fit into well. It’s a really decent move for the player and for the club.