Written by Nicholas Edwards
While watching the first half of the Arsenal v Ipswich game on Tuesday a thought popped into my head ‘Nicklas Bendtner is playing quite well on the right’. The whistle for half time was blown and I settled in for some half time banter with Alan Hansen and Alan Shearer. Both of them spoke about how badly Bendtner and Arshavin had played and that if Wenger wanted to push on then he’d have to substitute them. I was confused. Not about Arshavin, he played his worst game so far this season and the season has been poor for him to say the least. Bendtner on the other hand had a good half. He held the ball up well and made a couple of terrific crosses (one in particular that Van Persie should have headed into the back of the net).
The second half started and Arsenal were desperate for that opening goal and it was a moment of pure skill from Bendtner that produced it. He took an excellent first touch from a fantastic Jack Wilshire pass and calmly manoeuvred the ball past Fulop in the Ipswich goal. That was the spark that Arsenal needed to go on and win the game. After celebrating the fact that the Gunner’s were going to be in their first final in 4 years I found myself wondering; why does Nicklas Bendtner polarize fans opinions so much?
There has been much talk of the Danish international leaving during this transfer window but Wenger has stated his desire to keep hold of the striker. While Robin Van Persie and, maybe, Marouane Chamakh are above him in the pecking order I still feel he has a lot to offer the Gunner’s and can certainly see why the French tactician wants to keep him. If we look at the statistics then he is clearly not as bad as a lot of football commentators and aficionados would like to believe. He has now scored 40 goals in 139 appearances in all competitions and he is still only 23. He has also scored 5 goals in only 16 appearances this season which is a better tally than a lot of the strikers playing in England.
The Dane seems to be one of those characters that people will never warm to. He is a very confident young lad and I can see how this could be interpreted as arrogance but I honestly don’t feel that this is the case. Bendtner is hungry and ambitious and wants to succeed with Arsenal, maybe his choice of words sometimes aren’t great but he seems to want to be a success and I don’t think he should be ostracized for that.
A couple of seasons ago I remember how Arsenal fans were unimpressed by Emmanuel Adebayor and his lack of goals and wasting of opportunities. He eventually came through and started putting the chances away. I think Bendtner’s case is very similar. Last season he was the Gunner’s main striker because of injuries to Van Persie and Eduardo. He scored some good goals and seemed to be getting into his stride. He scored against Barcelona at Camp Nou in the Champions League and played well in the league. I think the more he plays and the more experienced he becomes then the more Arsenal will benefit.
I think Wenger has been smart using him on the right side of attack in the games against Leeds and Ipswich. He put in a brilliant cross from which Van Persie scored in the Leeds game and has held up the ball well on that side. It has shown a different side to his game and I for one would like to see him play in that position more often.
People will have you believe that Nicklas Bendtner is not good enough and sometimes I have agreed with that camp. However, if I look at his performances without any prejudice then I can see that Bendtner is a capable player who will improve over time. For pundits like Hansen and Shearer it seems that with the stigma attached to Nicklas Bendtner he will only get the recognition he deserves when he pulls of moments of magic like the goal he scored on Tuesday.