Arsene Wenger has sounded the warning to his Arsenal players over the possibility of facing Nicklas Bendtner in the third round tie of the EFL Cup. Wenger believes the former Arsenal striker has a point to prove as he faces his old club tonight.
Bendtner started his career in North London with high expectations but his 9 years with the Gunners only ended in disappointment with the player described as overconfident. A series of loan spells followed with Birmingham City, Sunderland and Juventus before he joined Wolfsburg permanently in 2014.
During his time with the Gunners, Bendtner scored a total of 47 goals in 171 appearances, with just two coming in his final season. Even though he started with the potential of becoming a capable first time forward, a perceived bad attitude and a failure to hold down a first team place meant he never really fulfilled his potential.
After a two-year spell at Wolfsburg, the 28-year-old has returned to England with Sky Bet Championship side Nottingham Forest, who are hosting Arsenal in the EFL Cup tonight. He isn’t generally known as the most efficient striker but Forest have pulled off quite a coup with his signing. He is a player who has played in some of the biggest leagues in Europe as well as scoring 29 goals for Denmark so it’s surprising to see him show up in the Championship.
Wenger believes it was the prospect of regular first team action which led to the striker’s return to English football.
“It was a surprise to me that Nicklas signed for Nottingham Forest, but at some stage Nicklas needs to restart his career,” Wenger told ESPN.
“You have to adapt and we are in a job when we have to show we are able to put our effort in everywhere and compete.
“Sometimes when you are a player of his quality, you just need an opportunity. We know his qualities and he is a top-quality player, but he needs to play.”
Although the Dane has made just two appearances for Forest so far there is a chance he will feature against his former club tonight. Should the opportunity arise, Bendtner has said he will celebrate but not too much if he scores against the Gunners.
“It’ll be a tough game against a strong Arsenal side but we are very confident,” the striker said.
“I will celebrate if I score tomorrow night but I won’t go crazy. I have a lot of love and respect for Arsenal as a club.”
Confidence is something the striker has never been short of. In 2011 it was revealed that the Dane reported an off-the-scale score in a psychological study which tested ‘self-perceived competence’, but Wenger has always stuck by the player.
“He was sometimes impatient when he was with us”, added Wenger.
“Sometimes he was disappointed not to get the chance and you can understand that. It is difficult — I am not here to judge people.
“I felt that he had good periods in his career, and then periods when it went less well for him. He could explain it better as to how he assesses his career because he is an honest guy.
“When he makes mistakes, he is big enough to say it is his fault. Sometimes it was not his fault but you felt he had it all in the locker to make a fantastic career.”
The Gunners might not miss him on the pitch but Wenger is right on lauding the player’s honesty. Perhaps he could even bottle a bit of that famous Bendtner self-confidence as a few Arsenal players – Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain particularly – would benefit.
It’s nice to see The Lord back in action in England but I’m sure most Arsenal fans are glad he’ll be lining up for the opposition.