Per Mertesacker: Danny Welbeck can 'make the difference' for Arsenal
The return of players like Danny Welbeck can "make the difference" for Arsenal in the Premier League title race, according to Gunners centre-back Per Mertesacker.
Welbeck is the latest Arsenal player to make a return from injury and had a massive impact in the 2-1 victory over Leicester on Sunday, scoring a last-gasp winner in his first appearance in nearly 10 months. Alexis Sanchez and Francis Coquelin are also back, now fit after injury layoffs, with Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla set to return next month.
With Arsenal two points behind Leicester and four teams still fighting for the title, Mertesacker said getting players back in the squad will be crucial in the tail end of the season.
"We have long-term injuries, which gave us a bit of a struggle, especially in January, where we played in December and January with almost the same team," Mertesacker told Arsenal's official website.
"Now we need players to come back and make the difference. That's very important, as you could see against Leicester. We are happy to have Danny now and a few others are not far away. We need our players - you could see that that makes a difference. We're happy to have at least him back and there's more coming back as well."
Welbeck's goal set off a raucous celebration at the Emirates Stadium, including by the England forward's teammates who greeted him in the dressing room chanting his name, after the match. Mertesacker said the late winner will serve as an instant confidence booster for Welbeck, after spending so many months fighting to get back on the pitch.
"For Danny to go through a bad, injured period where he kept believing in himself, when everyone maybe doubted him, it was a great chance for him to come in and show he was ready to give everything for the team," Mertesacker said. "He was always integrated into the team but when you feature on the pitch, give the team such a great goal and energy, it gives him a big lift."
Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.