Smalling praise for Welbeck

Defender insists striker has come on leaps and bounds

Danny Welbeck: Chris Smalling hails Manchester United striker's goalscoring knack

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Manchester United defender Chris Smalling has labelled striker Danny Welbeck's goalscoring ability as a 'great asset'.

Welbeck was the Red Devils' match-winner on Sunday against Arsenal with an 81st-minute strike at Emirates Stadium.

United needed to claim all three points in north London in order to maintain their title challenge after Manchester City secured a last-gasp success over Tottenham.

The 21-year-old was on loan at Sunderland last season and Smalling believes the striker has come on 'leaps and bounds'.

Knack

"He has come on leaps and bounds. He has always had his pace and ability to finish, but he is so much stronger these days."

Chris Smalling on Danny Welbeck

Quotes of the week

"Danny has a knack of scoring good goals this year for us and at vital times. That's a great asset for us to have," Smalling told the Manchester Evening News.

"This year he is getting his chance and he is such a threat. He causes defences so many problems and he did that again against Arsenal's. It is great for us.

"He has come on leaps and bounds. He has always had his pace and ability to finish, but he is so much stronger these days.

"Sometimes he has to play up front on his own with (Wayne Rooney) just off him at times and when you have that responsibility you cannot afford to lose the ball when you are in that position.

"You have to be strong to deal with that and that is something his game has gained and he is scoring goals as well. He is a proper Premier League striker now.

"He has come in and joined the show and if he keeps this form up to the end of the season he is going to be great for us and he'll do well for United and, hopefully, for England in the summer."

Massive

Victory over the Gunners meant United stay three points behind leaders City and Smalling believes it was a 'massive' result.

"This was a massive win for us. Even at 1-1 we all knew we had to really win this game after what had happened earlier at City. I think we showed real character to do that," he continued.

"We did see some of the City match on the way here and obviously we did know the result before we started.

"We knew they had scored in the dying minutes but we always know that we cannot rely on them to drop points.

"We always have to do our job and we did that. If we keep ticking off these wins then soon enough they will crumble.

"We just needed to make sure we won and not let that gap increase any more. It is still going to go down to the last few games."