The England striker confirmed his return to fitness, scoring twice at St Mary’s Stadium and is now hoping to play a more prominent role in the Gunners’ bid to close the eight-point gap to Premier League leaders Chelsea when Walter Mazzarri’s struggling Watford side visit the Emirates Stadium.
An injury picked up against Manchester City at the end of last season led to the forward’s latest extended absence but Welbeck has been blighted by fitness problems during his three-year stay at Arsenal.
“It was obviously good to be back out on the pitch after such a long time out, it’s been a tough few months,” Welbeck told Arsenal Player after the Southampton game that booked the club’s place in the last sixteen of the FA Cup.
“The thought of coming back definitely helped. I think because I had this experience before, coming back from an injury, I kind of knew what to expect even though it’s a tough time.
“The end game is to be back out on the pitch and playing in the first team and I got that opportunity. I’m certainly looking forward to doing it many more times.”
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was forced to watch from the stands at St Mary’s on Saturday as he started his four-game touchline ban after being charged for misconduct following his altercation with the fourth official during the home defeat of Burnley.
Against Southampton, Wenger’s absence from the dug-out had little impact and Theo Walcott, scorer of a weekend hat-trick insists it will be no different against Watford.
“We’re on the pitch, we just try to do our job,” Walcott said.
“When things are going well it’s great, it’s obviously important for the manager to be there, but he was in the dressing room before and after the game and during half-time, but we know our jobs.”
– Watford struggling –
While Arsenal have every right to feel confident about extending their unbeaten run in 2017, Watford will arrive low on confidence after a humiliating FA Cup exit at the hands of League One Millwall.
Without a win in seven league games, the last thing Mazzarri’s side needed was to find themselves on the receiving end of one of the shocks of the fourth round.