Following his second hat trick for Arsenal in as many seasons, Nicklas Bendtner has some reason to be cocky and arrogant. It might have been only against lowly Leyton Orient, but the treble will do the big Dane a world of good, especially to his over inflated ego.
Bendtner, who Arsenal fans have grown accustomed to see miss sitters, was clinical in front of goal and put up a performance that will delight his manager, Arsene Wenger.
It was clear from the onset that both Marouane Chamakh and Nicklas Bendtner had a lot to prove. After all a place in the starting lineup against the mighty Barcelona was up for grabs and based on this performance it just might be Bendtner who could be starting against the world’s best team.
Behind the façade of arrogance, it has always been extremely evident, that Nicklas Bendtner is a supremely talented individual with an exceptional future ahead of him. Last season he saved Arsenal the blushes on numerous occasions as he scored 12 goals all season and did he level best to minimize the loss of Robin van Persie.
This season however Nicklas Bendtner has found it difficult to find regular playing time following the signing of Marouane Chamakh from Bordeaux in the summer and after the return of Dutchman, Robin van Persie from injury.
Arsene Wenger has decided to use Nicklas Bendtner in the wings this season and so far it has been fairly successful. Wenger has stated that the Dane can take the opposite route that Arsenal legend, Thierry Henry took; he could go from a central striker to a winger. Bendtner has expressed his desire to play as the centre forward but the position in the wings has helped to bring out the best in the Dane.
Even in the match against Leyton Orient on Wednesday, Arsene Wenger utilized Bendtner on the wings while Chamakh started up front as the lone striker. While playing as the lone striker, Bendtner has struggled this season. In the matches against Ipswich(first leg), Shakhtar Donetsk and Braga, Bendtner started as the lone striker and in all three matches, he struggled to impose himself and Arsenal went onto lose all three matches scoring just one goal along the way.
But that does not mean that he struggles always as the lone striker. Last season when he played up front alone, he was extremely successful as he scored 11 goals in the absence of van Persie. Last season he was on fire during the end of the season and scored several important and key goals to win several games for Arsenal. In the previous season after the injury to Robin van Persie and with no adequate replacement, Nicklas Bendtner had to step up for the Gunners and he rose to the occasion. He played admirably and scored several vital goals against the likes of Stoke, Hull and Barcelona.
Bendtner’s natural position is as the central striker. But with both van Persie and Chamakh already there in the squad he will find it difficult to hold onto a regular position in the first team. He might have eclipsed Chamakh in recent weeks but a Chamakh with confidence is a better player and is more consistent as Chamakh showed in the early parts of the season.
So now Arsene Wenger has started utilizing Nicklas Bendtner in the right wing and so far it has reaped rich rewards. He has scored nine goals this season. Out of those nine, seven of them have come when either Chamakh or van Persie has played along with. In the presence of these two strikers he has been forced to move into the wings.
But despite this change he has got into several good goalscoring positions and has showed great movement and positional sense.
He has got into good goalscoring opportunities and has developed the knack of cutting inside from the left and slotting it past the goalkeeper. He has drifted into the left and is holding up the ball extremely well. Despite starting on the wings he is becoming a real goalscoring threat. He has started to linkup with his teammates very well.
But he is not just scoring all the goals, he is also creating them. He has put in some great balls into the box most notably against Leeds United and Leyton Orient. This season he has already managed six assists.
But even if he does make his move to the wings, he is in no way guaranteed of a starting position. He will face stiff competition from the likes of Walcott, Arshavin, Nasri and the three of them are most likely to start ahead of the Dane.
But Wenger has the option of using Walcott and Arshavin as impact substitutes while starting with the Dane. If Bendtner can keep up his recent performance, Wenger may just ponder using Bendtner more regularly than he has recently especially in the absence of Robin van Persie.
But in the absence of van Persie and Chamakh, Bendtner can always revert back to his position as the central striker. His new found versatility will prove key to the Gunners especially considering Arsenal’s recent injury woes as several key players have fallen prey to injury once again.
When Arsenal take on Barcelona next week, Robin van Persie will be absent with a knee injury. This means that either Bendtner or Chamakh will start. Bendtner’s recent goalscoring exploits would have done him a world of good and it is most likely that he will get the nod ahead of Chamakh. Right now Bendtner is in much better form and Chamakh is still not back to his best yet.
The positional change seems to have done Bendtner no harm but instead it has reaped rich dividends for the team and for the highly talented Nicklas Bendtner.