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Welbeck's Arsenal goal drought is a growing concern

Given Arsenal's well-publicised defensive issues, striker Danny Welbeck is arguably the least of their worries.

Nevertheless, his recent barren spell -- he is without a goal in his past five appearances -- is not without consequence. At a time when Arsenal are leaking so many goals at the back, they need to be as clinical as they can up top.

Olivier Giroud is close to a full return to training and competition for the central striking spot is about to heat up. Between now and Christmas, Welbeck will face the defining period of his season.

Against Swansea we saw the good and the bad of his game. The upside was his excellent assist for Alexis Sanchez -- racing beyond the Swansea defence, he showed a deft touch to cut back inside, then astute awareness to pick out his teammate. That pace on the counter is something Giroud will never offer and Welbeck's speed makes him a potent weapon.

However, there also were signs at the Liberty Stadium that his finishing still needs to improve. During the first half, neat interplay saw him fashion an opportunity on the right-hand side of the six-yard box. However, his side-footed effort was palmed away by Lukasz Fabianski at the near post.

The issue wasn't Welbeck's technique; he generated significant power with minimal back-lift. Instead, it was his decision-making that was at fault. Fabianski had that side of the goal well covered and, had Welbeck been more composed, he would surely have opted to slot in to the unguarded far corner.

Welbeck's scoring record is particularly poor in the Premier League, with just two goals from his first eight Arsenal starts, a one-in-four ratio that is roughly the equivalent of what he managed at Manchester United. Playing in his preferred central role, he ought to be doing better.

However, despite a lack of goals, he still contributes hugely to Arsenal's game. Welbeck has given the attack another dimension by combining his tidy link-up play with dynamic athleticism. His combination play with the likes of Alexis and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is steadily improving and his intelligent movement suggests goals will soon flow.

Then there's the defensive aspect to his game. Even when Welbeck is not at his sharpest, he works incredibly hard. Recent performances suggest that Arsene Wenger is determined to make his team press high up the field. In tandem with Alexis, Welbeck has both the stamina and desire to terrorise opposition defenders when they're on the ball. Now he needs to ensure his they're as worried when he's the man in possession.

There is one other logical explanation for the slight dip in his goal output. Welbeck's best performances in an Arsenal shirt came against Aston Villa and Galatasaray. On both occasions, he was supplied by the penetrative passing of Mesut Ozil. Their partnership seemed to be blossoming just as the German succumbed to injury.

In recent matches, Arsenal have been without both Ozil and Jack Wilshere and, in the absence of those two schemers, the Gunners don't necessarily have players whose first thought is to look for a defence-splitting through-ball. It was initially hoped that Welbeck could bring the best out of Ozil but, in reality, Arsenal may need Ozil to get the best out of Welbeck.

Welbeck will know he needs to be more prolific if he is avoid being confined to the left-wing when Giroud returns or, worse, the bench. It won't have escaped his attention that Arsenal's next game is against his former club, Manchester United.

What a time that would be to get back on the goal trail.