Welbeck proves van Gaal wrong with winner
ARSENAL manager Arsene Wenger said that Danny Welbeck had been motivated by a desire to prove Manchester United wrong, after he knocked his former club out of the FA Cup.
A Manchester-born United academy graduate, England striker Welbeck left for Arsenal in a £16 million (S$33 million) deal in September after falling out of favour under new manager Louis van Gaal.
The Dutchman claimed Welbeck was not good enough to hold down a starting place at Old Trafford, but his words returned to haunt him as the 24-year-old earned holders Arsenal a 2-1 win on Monday that set up a semi-final meeting with either Reading or Bradford City.
"We all want to do well when we play against our former club to show that we are a great player, but it's not easy to deal with the mental situation of it," said Wenger, whose side had not won at United since September 2006.
"But he focused on his game and didn't do anything special, just played football like you want him to play. I think he has shown mental strength, because it's not always easy to deal with that."
Welbeck was moved on at United partly to accommodate Radamel Falcao, who signed from Monaco in a reported £6 million loan deal with a view to a £43.5 million transfer. But the Colombia star has failed to impress in Manchester, scoring only four goals in 20 appearances.
When it was put to him that Falcao was struggling, van Gaal told a journalist: "He has scored four goals and has three or four assists, so that is his contribution. He also stimulates the other players, so that is an aspect of the profession.
"But it is now easy for you to say that. You are very happy to say that. I see that in your face."
Welbeck's 61st-minute goal saw him seize on a back pass from Antonio Valencia before rounding David de Gea to score, and he celebrated by clenching his fists in an apparent show of vindication.
It came after Nacho Monreal's 26th-minute opener had been cancelled out by a flying header from United captain Wayne Rooney.
United now have only Champions League qualification to aim for, with Arsenal one of the teams competing against them for a top-four finish in the Premier League, and Wenger said his side's victory would give them extra belief.
"When you can win big games, it's more mental. We know we have the football level, but the belief is important."