The weekend is nearly upon us, signalling Arsenal’s visit to the rugby representatives of English football. Pushing, shoving, two footed lunges and wholesale thuggery are likely to be on show from one side. A result needs obtaining, and I will have no qualms if Arsenal display some of these attributes themselves as long as three points are secured.
In team news, Theo Walcott might return for the last game at West Brom but will definitely miss tomorrow as well as Norwich next week. Tomas Rosicky has recovered from sickness and will be raring to go. The disappointing news is that he’s passed it on to Abou Diaby, who might figure in the squad but is unlikely to start. Benayoun is eligible again after sitting out the last game against his current employers.
Tomorrow’s article will be the preview of our Britannia visit. Today though, we’ll continue our discussion on the future of our on-loan players. Nicklas Bendtner is under consideration in this article.
Arsene Wenger himself has been speaking on the matter:
[I have not decided anything] yet. It will depend a bit on the structure of the whole team. I will sit down with them at the end of the season. You know have some restrictions because you are only allowed 25 players. Therefore you have to make decisions and choices that are of course linked with that.
It’s a point often overlooked by us supporters when we clamour for new signings. Arsene seems to be suggesting that before we look at more incomings, we’ll need to sort out a few outgoings.
Getting back to Bendtner, the striker struggled to establish a starting place at Arsenal during the 2010-11 campaign. Marouane Chamakh’s early season form and Robin van Persie’s return from injury later in the season meant the Dane did not get many opportunities in his preferred central striker role. Although he did score a hat-trick in the FA Cup and the crucial opening goal in the League cup semi-final, domestic cup form did not transfer to the Premier League and he finished with just 2 goals from 17 appearances in the top flight.
During the summer, Nicklas did his best to draw the ire of Gooners with his father/agent constantly peddling his services to any top club that was willing to lend an ear. As it turned out, none of them were vaguely interested. When Sunderland came calling, it offered the only option for the Dane to get some regular football.
Back in October, Steve Bruce felt Bendtner could score 15 goals a season. While that number has not materialised, the striker has certainly contributed to the Black Cats’ cause with 7 goals and 5 assists. He had a good run of form in March, scoring 4 goals in 5 games but Sunderland haven’t found the net in the four games in April.
Bendtner’s main problem at Arsenal has always been his finishing. While he’s sometime capable of the sublime, more often than not he conspires not to score when doing so would be far easier. He seems to have addressed this profligacy to an extent with Sunderland this season. Still, consistency has not been found in putting chances away. If it was another player, the lack of composure in front of goal could be put down to inexperience, youth and a lack of belief. But in his case, the bold statements about his own abilities are easily construed as misplaced egoism on part of the Dane.
This self-belief also precludes him from accepting a role on the bench. His desire to play and his strong personality combine to create a discontented figure in the dressing room.
Off the field too, Bendtner routinely makes the news for all the wrong reasons. Yes, he’s still only 24 and many players sober down in later years. Can Nicklas Bendtner do a Van Persie in four years time and find the temperament to match his talents? Time will tell. On present evidence though, you have to say no.
From a purely footballing perspective, I think Nicklas is a useful player to have in the team and I would not have any qualms about having him back. But after burning every bridge he’s ever crossed, he’s unlikely to be afforded any leniency by supporters – the first bad performance will provoke calls for his head. With Podolski arriving, chances of playing up front will continue to be limited especially if RvP can maintain his form – after signing an extension, of course!
All things considered, it will be a massive gamble for Arsene Wenger to recall Nicklas Bendtner. I expect the club will do their best to get him off the payroll as quickly as they can. Whether the Dane will consider Sunderland worthy of his talents is another issue – one which could prove to be the only cause for delay in his inevitable departure from Arsenal.
Your thoughts welcome.
Back tomorrow with preview of the Stoke game. Until then.