Can Nicklas Bendtner lead Arsenal to glory?
On Saturday November 14th Arsenal striker Robin Van Persie was stretchered off after sustaining ankle ligament damage playing for Holland against Italy. It was soon confirmed that he will miss the majority of the season. The minute every Arsenal fan heard this news they all had the same thoughts going through their heads…..who will replace Van Persie? Will Arsene Wenger buy a replacement in January? Can we still maintain our title challenge and champions league aspirations without our Dutch striker?
If Arsenal fans had been told at that time that in mid-March Arsenal would be sitting 2 points off the league leaders and through to the quarter finals of the champions league every Gooner would have been delighted, but if you told them they would be in this position without buying a world class striker in the transfer window they may have thought you were nuts.
But this is the position Arsenal find themselves in. Arsene Wenger decided he was going to put his faith in what he had at the club already, much to the dismay of many Arsenal fans, but he seems to have proved the doubters wrong. Arsenal are in great shape in the premier league and in with a chance to win their first league title since 2004, and are through to the champions league quarter finals after a 6-2 aggregate score against Porto. The question now is….are Arsenal good enough to win their first trophy in 5 seasons or will Arsene Wenger rue the day he decided not to replace Robin Van Persie?
The answer to these questions may lie at the feet (or head) of Nicklas Bendtner. With Eduardo struggling for both fitness and form, the young Dane has been given the task of leading the line for Arsenal and is going to be a key player if the Gunners are to achieve anything this season. So is Bendtner good enough to lead us to a trophy?
Bendtner has all the strengths needed to be a top class striker. He is big, strong, good with his head, has a decent touch, a good shot and takes up clever positions in the box. His problem is consistency. This couldn’t have been highlighted to greater effect than in recent weeks. Against Burnley he missed chance after chance, he literally could have got six but left the field empty handed. Three days later he grabbed a hat-trick against Porto in the champions league then netted a late winner against Hull in the premier league. That week pretty much summed him up.
I am a great fan of Bendtner. I see him as an extremely useful first team player. He offers us something different….mainly his height and power. I think it’s safe to say that he is far from the finished article but Arsenal pose a greater attacking threat with him up front, as opposed to paying Arshavin out of position as a central striker. In fact i think Arshavin really enjoys playing alongside Nik, the same can be said for Walcott. Bendtner can hold the ball up, play others in and is a threat in the box. Look at how many times in recent weeks Arshavin and Walcott have created chances for Nicklas. Granted he may not have taken them all, but if he keeps getting himself into those positions he will score plenty of goals in this Arsenal team.
With a front three of Arshavin, Bendtner and Walcott i think Arsenal have a great mix of pace, height, power and creativity. When we played with Arshavin up front with Nasri and Rosicky either side of him we looked far less threatening. They were all too similar, but now we have options and variety. For me, Arshavin, Bendtner and Walcott should be our starting front three, especially at home. They are the best combination. Obviously Arsene Wenger will rotate and players like Nasri and Rosicky will get playing time as well but due to the strengths of Bendtner i see Arshavin and Walcott as the perfect partners for the big Dane.
One problem Bendtner doesn’t have is a lack of confidence. We know he has the ability so it’s just a case of making sure we continue to provide the ammunition and he will score goals, no doubt about it. But he will have to improve his consistency. You can just about get away with missing six chances against Burnley at home, but if he has that kind of game away at Spurs or in the champions league, Arsenal will be punished. It may be down to concentration, some of the chances he missed were bread and butter even for a division 2 striker never mind an international playing for Arsenal, so maybe he just needs to concentrate on even the simplest of chances and get that killer instinct in his game.
His response since the Burnley game has been spot-on, let’s hope it continues. Because if it does….Arsenal have a real shot at ending their trophy drought and Nicklas Bendtner will have replayed the faith Arsene Wenger has placed in him.
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