Arsene Wenger insists that Danny Welbeck is in ‘good shape’ after the forward was subbed off at half time during Arsenal’s 1-0 Europa League defeat to FC Cologne.

After Welbeck was subbed off at half time in favour of Alex Iwobi on Thursday evening, Arsenal fans were left fearing the worst. However, according to Wenger, the forward is fine and the switch was planned from the outset.

“It was planned before the game that he would only play 45 minutes,” Wenger said.

“He has only just come back from injury, and we have three more games on Sunday, Wednesday and Saturday again. Medically, the risk was a bit too high to play him for longer because he has been out for a while.

“He has no problem. Of course, he was ready to stay on and frustrated to come off, but he’s in good shape.”

Welbeck has only just returned from a second groin injury. The first, he suffered during Arsenal’s 0-0 win at Stamford Bridge in September; the second he picked up during his return against Watford. Therefore, it’s completely understandable that Wenger would want to be cautious with the 26-year-old.

welbeck watford
WATFORD, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 14: An injured Danny Welbeck of Arsenal leaves the pitch during the Premier League match between Watford and Arsenal at Vicarage Road on October 14, 2017 in Watford, England. (Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images)

During his 45 minutes on the pitch against FC Cologne, Welbeck had a reasonably solid return to action. The England international completed five dribbles and 22/27 passes.

Welbeck didn’t really have the chance to influence the game or even put in a key pass. However, that wasn’t what his inclusion was really about – it was more about building up his match fitness and reintroducing him to the fold.

Although I believe Wenger when he says that Welbeck was frustrated to be taken off, he knew, the boss knew and we all knew it was for his own good.

Let’s hope he’s ready to travel to Burnley this weekend.