Monthly Archives: September 2013

Nicklas Bendtner: Reasons Why He Deserves Another Chance at Arsenal

The story of Nicklas Bendtner and Arsenal goes all the way back to 2005, when the Gunners snapped up a talented youngster from the youth academy of FC Copenhagen. After making only three League Cup appearances in his first season with the club, the Gunners offered him a chance to continue his footballing education in Birmingham City, where he shined like a star, scoring 13 goals in 42 appearances.

On his return to the club in 2007, Bendtner found himself at the fringes due to the fact that he was way behind the pecking order in attack as the Gunners had Emmanuel Adebayor, Robin van Persie and Eduardo da Silva that suffered a horrific career-threatening injury in the second half of that season. In subsequent campaigns, he featured in Cup ties as well as some league fixtures but his big break arrived in the 2009/10 campaign, when the red-hot Robin van Persie was sidelined for a lengthy spell. Bendtner hit double figures that season, as he did in the year before.

With the striker not satisfied with hardly playing and actually playing out of position anytime he was on the pitch, so his relationship with the club became strained and when he managed to secure a move to Sunderland, he expressed his desire to never play for Arsenal again. A permanent move failed to materialize and he didn’t do any better in his second loan stint with Juventus.

After almost two years, Nicklas Bendtner played for Arsenal in a League Cup tie against West Brom, and would have every reason to be pleased with his performance. He even expressed his delight in his team’s victory,

“For myself I was very moved by my reception and hearing my song again made my heart skip! Young players did ever so well and kept there cool in a difficult penalty shootout. Respect! Skipper looking fresh! (referring to Vermaelen).”

In the wake of Nicklas Bendtner’s outing against West Brom, I clearly feel that he deserves another chance at Arsenal. Here are my reasons why;

He has Finally Swallowed his Pride….Some of it, at Least

Confident, cocky, egotistical and extremely proud.

These are attributes of a player that believes in his ability so much, even to the extent where he proclaimed that he was one of the world’s best strikers. We all know how Bendtner’s career has panned out thus far and he hasn’t reached those heights he has even set for himself, as his performances on the pitch aren’t anywhere near the Lewandowskis, Falcaos, Cavanis, Ibrahimovics, Agueros, Higuains, Benzemas, van Persies, Rooneys, Freds, and Girouds of this world.

Despite the fact that he was linked with all the clubs in the Milky Way, Bendtner didn’t even do enough for his services to be retained in Sunderland and Juventus, Eintracht Frankfurt pulled the plug on him and he was odds on to make a move to Crystal Palace on transfer deadline day but the Gunners fell the move through when they couldn’t secure the services of Demba Ba.

After reflecting on how downward his career had plunged, Bendtner swallowed some pride and vowed to give his all for his team this season.

His Committed Performance Against West Brom

For a player that hasn’t played regular football for a while, Bendtner, rightly so, looked off the pace for his team but he put up an uncharacteristically committed performance for Arsenal. Bendtner clashed with the post in his attempt of nod a cross, held up play, fought in the air for balls and even showed his quality when he created a neat assist for Thomas Eisfeld.

There was a moment when Gnabry sent him through and he would have had a chance to make all the headlines but he dallied too much on the ball and it came back to bite him on the arse as Craig Dawson made up some ground to make a vital interception.

After 120 minutes, Bendtner took the responsibility of playing Arsenal’s first penalty, which he scored. His reactions alongside his teammates when Nacho Monreal scored the match winning penalty was priceless.

The Gunners reveling in their penalty triumph

His Goalscoring Record for Arsenal

For those that don’t know, Nicklas Bendtner is currently Arsenal’s second highest goalscorer with 45 goals in 158 games, and he’s behind Theo Walcott that has amassed 69 goals in 293 games. His goal-to-game ratio at Arsenal is quite impressive, considering the fact that he’s not a first team regular. In every season he played for Arsenal bar his first (where he was away on loan at Birmingham), Bendtner closed in on double figures and he surpassed the mark twice with 15 goals (2008/09) and 12 goals (2009/10).

His track record on the international scene is pretty impressive if you ask me, with 22 goals scored in 55 games for Denmark.

Bendtner is a player that would offer a different dynamic in attack, as he poses a threat in the air and is equally adept with the ball on his feet. If Arsenal intends to end their trophy drought this season, they will need all the goals they can get, and I believe that Bendtner could hit double figures this season.

Paucity of Options in Attack

For a title-challenging side like Arsenal, it’s really strange to see how light they are in attack, one of the departments in football that is very vital, as teams need goals to win games. Beyond Olivier Giroud, it’s shocking to see that the Gunners don’t have any recognized out-and-out striker, as Theo Walcott and Lukas Podolski are better suited to the wings, where they have played their best football for the team.

When Podolski and Walcott played in the center forward position, they clearly struggled as they lacked the basic tools that would have made them succeed in that position – height, ability to hold up play, work rate, deft one touch passes to bring teammates into the game, strength to hold off defenders, aerial ability and providing a focal point in attack. Finishing is a good attribute to have as an attacker, but it can only get you so far.

The Bendtner we all loved

The Bendtner we all loved

In Bendtner, the Gunners have big striker that would be more than a handful for opposition defenders and his aerial ability can prove to be a vital asset this season, as the Gunners showcased their aerial prowess in their recent league victory over Stoke. Bendtner will also give Giroud a run for his money.

Nicklas Bendtner may believe in his abilities more than the average footballer, which makes him seem as if he’s the Hulk, even though he has been exposed to any gamma radiation but at the very least, he deserves another chance at Arsenal.

Sayonara

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West Brom 1 Arsenal 1 (3-4 pens.): Young Guns Win the Lottery of Penalties

Nacho Monreal kept a cool head to slot in the decisive penalty

The Hawthorns (Capital One Cup)

West Brom (Berahino 71′); Arsenal (Eisfeld 62′)

West Brom penalties (Reid scored, Rosenberg scored, Morrison scored, Dawson missed, Amalfitano missed); Arsenal penalties (Bendtner scored, Gnabry missed, Olsson scored, Akpom scored, Monreal scored)

Arsenal arrived at the Hawthorns on the back of an amazing winning streak of seven games in a row and as expected, Arsene Wenger was going to rest a considerable chunk of his first team squad, handing starts to some injury returnees and some of his young Guns.

In defense, Lukasz Fabianski and club captain, Thomas Vermaelen, made their first starts of the season alongside the ever-present Per Mertesacker while Nacho Monreal and Carl Jenkinson provided wit down the flanks. In midfield, the manager handed a debut for Isaac Hayden, a center back by trade, and he played with seasoned professional, Mikel Arteta, while Thomas Eisfeld played as the creative hub. In attack, Ryo Miyaichi and Serge Gnabry supported the World’s Best Striker with his extremely new looks, Nicklas Bendtner.

West Brom almost drew first blood when captain of the night, Steven Reid, swung a dangerous cross that was sent into the danger area but Carl Jenkinson guided the ball to Fabianski who made a routine save. On the other end, Miyaichi made a darting run before lofting a cross that was missed by Bendtner but he clashed with the goal post, which definitely gave him a very nice dose of pain.

World Best Bendtner in his new looks

Fabianski was called into action again when Craig Dawson’s looping header was tipped over the bar by the Pole. Hayden exposed his naivety when he made a rash lounge on Youssouf Mulumbu and could count himself lucky to receive a yellow card because on another day, he would have received his marching orders. The last noteworthy highlight of the first half arrived when Reid curled a free kick that hit the cross bar before going over but the officials adjudged that Fabianski got a hand to it.

The home side continued to probe the Gunners back line and Berahino dinked a cross that was heading towards Scott Sinclair but Mertesacker was on hand to make a vital merteception. Mulumbu was free on the edge of the area and he fired another goal-bound shot that was saved by Fabianski.

Against the run of play, Gnabry moved forward before feeding Bendtner. The World Best’s striker noticed Eisfeld ahead of him and threaded an inch-perfect through ball for the German whose first touch was exquisite and second was even better, sending the goalie the wrong way to put Arsenal ahead.

Eisfeld picked his spot and placed his effort well

While the Gunners were basking in the euphoria of going ahead, West Brom equalized after 10 minutes courtesy of some lax defending. A corner swung into Arsenal’s danger area fell kindly to Shane Long that had all the time in the world to pick his spot and drop the ball into the six-yard with was headed home by Berahino.

Wenger brought in some reinforcements as Chuba Akpom replaced a visibly jaded Eisfeld while Kristoffer Olsson replaced Hayden. Nicklas Bendtner guided a header to the poor Gnabry but a rush of blood to his head made him fire the ball wide. Right at the death, Jenkinson fired in a dangerous cross but nobody in yellow was around to attack the ball.

Extra time beckoned as there was a major concern for Gunners as Mikel Arteta was replaced by Hector Bellerin for what seemed like a calf injury, but the manager confirmed that it was just a cramp and he’s okay.

The chance of the game arrived for Arsenal when Gnabry sent Bendtner clear on goal but the Dane wasted all the time in world before the ball was intercepted by Diego Lugano. It was a hilarious sight.

Chuba Akpom was afforded a lot of time on the ball and drilled his effort wide. Within minutes, it was end to end stuff as Markus Rosenberg tried to beat Fabianski on his near post but the goalie dived low to make a decent save. Bellerin had two quickfire chances that were wasted and West Brom almost won the game when Morgan Amalfitano blasted a shot the smashed the cross bar.

With both teams unable to cancel out each other after 90 minutes, the game had to be decided with penalty shootouts and West Brom won the toss to start.

Steven Reid, slammed Fabianski’s roof with the first spot kick and Bendtner responded with a placed finish to level the contest. Rosenberg fired the ball down the middle to make it 2-1 but Gnabry, that had a stinker all game long, compounded his misery with a poor penalty that was saved by Daniels.

James Morrison hit the roof to make it three but young Olsson kept a cool head to score a neat finish to make it 3-2. Craig Dawson handed the initiative back to Arsenal when he glanced his penalty wide and Akpom showed good composure beyond his years to make it 3-3.

The West Brom fans made themselves to be heard when Amalfitano made the long walk to the spot but their smiles changed to frowns when the stone-faced Frenchman blasted his spot kick wide. Up stepped Nacho Monreal to keep a cool head and sent the goalie the wrong way to send the Gunners to the fourth round of the Capital One Cup.

Sheer elation in the faces of the players

After the game, Arsene Wenger expressed his pride in seeing his youngsters play for two hours and the composure they showed to score their penalties where worth commending. However, the Gunners are set for a fourth round clash at home to Chelsea, which will reignite the Wenger-Mourinho rivalry.

All focus will be firmly fixed on the Swansea game this weekend.

Sayonara.

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Capital One Cup: Reviewing Arsenal’s Most Exciting Young Prospects

Chuba Akpom Chuba Akpom #32 of Arsenal is congratulated by team mate Ryo Miyaichi #31 after scoring a goal against Vietnam during the international friendly match between Vietnam and Arsenal FC at My Dinh National Stadium on July 17, 2013 in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Time for the youngsters to make their marks

After a grueling run of fixtures in the Premier League and Champions League, the Capital One Cup began in earnest yesterday with Manchester City and Tottenham getting the highest results of the night following their mauling of Wigan and Aston Villa respectively. The pick of the bunch will certainly be Manchester United’s clash against Liverpool tonight but Arsenal has an away trip to West Brom to contend with.

In the wake of Arsenal’s Capital One Cup clash with West Brom, it’s expected that Arsene Wenger would rest a couple of his fatigued first-team stars, handing starts to a couple of exciting young prospects. The blogger of the Gooner of Steel, Samuel Iyoha, has come to share his thoughts on these talented youngsters.

Over to you Samuel

****

The Capital One cup is here again as a necessary break was really needed from the fitness-sapping rigors of the Champions League and Premier league. The Capital One Cup always has mixed emotions for the Arsenal fans as they have witnessed great displays from the team’s youngsters, who have done really well in the past to go far in the competition, only to crash out under various circumstances.

In 2004, an unfortunate Jose Antonio Reyes own goal cost Arsenal a place in the final as Middlesbrough defeated the Gunners in the semis before beating Bolton in the finals. The Carling Cup campaign of 2006 was also fruitless as a late Jason Roberts goal ensured that Wigan went to the final in Arsenal’s expense courtesy of the away goal rule.

In 2007, Arsene Wenger guided his young lads into the finals of the competition only to lose out to a Didier Drogba-inspired Chelsea. Arsenal hit poor streaks in the tournament and came extremely close to glory in the 2011 Carling Cup final but a lack of communication between Wojciech Szczesny and Laurent Koscielny cost the team dearly as Birmingham City’s Obafemi Martins lurked around and scored what proved to be the match winner.

Last season, following an amazing 7-5 victory against Reading, Arsenal fielded a pretty strong side in the quarterfinals against eventual finalists, Bradford City, but they were made to rue their profligacy, and Gervinho’s miss would go down as one of the most embarrassing moments in the history of the competition.

This season, Arsenal has a realistic chance of winning the Capital One Cup, and starting with a third round fixture against Premier League campaigners, West Brom, the Gunners have to start firing from all cylinders from the first minute.

With the long injury list at the club, Wenger has continually used the same set of players repeatedly and their fatigue showed at the tail end of the game against Stoke City. It is imperative that the manager rotates his squad for the cup game, and the likes of injury returnees like Mikel Arteta, Thomas Vermaelen and Nicklas Bendtner are odds on to get some game time tonight.

However, we could see some youngsters from Steve Gattling’s U-21 side make the starting eleven. Let’s take a close look at some of the candidates:

GEDION ZELALEM, D.O.B: January 26, 1997 (16 years old)

Born in Germany to an Ethiopian father and American mother, the 16-year-old protegee is as versatile on the pitch as he is with his family background. Arrived in North London in January 2013, and has not looked back since then.

He has played a good number of U-21 games, traveled with the team for the tour of Asia and has made a huge promotion to the first team. For a teenager nick named the ‘little Fabregas’, he can only get better.

Zelalem was a star in the Asia Tour

Zelalem was a  standout performer in the Asia Tour and comparisons to Cesc Fabregas surfaced after watching his eagle-eyed pin-point passes as well as the way he dictated the tempo of the games he played in.

SERGE GNABRY, D.O.B: July 14, 1995 (18 years old)

The German winger came from Hertha Berlin in July 2012 and didn’t take time to make an impression on Wenger, getting his Premier League debut few months later in the game against West Ham.

Fleet footed, good dribbling skills and a good eye for goal, the German has all the qualities to have a great footballing career. Got his first Premier League start against Stoke a couple of days back and didn’t disappoint. With Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain out of the side, Gnabry will be set to get an extended run of games. Let’s hope that he seizes the bull with the horns.

RYO MIYAICHI, D.O. B: December 14, 1992 (20 years old)

Like every Japanese winger, Ryodinho, as he was fondly called during his stint in Holland, is very fast on the ball, has good dribbling skills and not afraid to take on the opponent. Once described by Roberto Martinez as a star in the making, the Japanese has a bright future ahead of him.

Arrived from Nagoya Gampus (Wenger’s former club) in the winter of 2011 failing to get a conditional work permit, the youngster was sent to Feyernoord on loan that winter was voted as the fifth best signing of the EreDivisie in 2011, despite coming in January. A loan move to Bolton followed, and Miyaichi impressed a lot before scoring his first goal in English football against Millwall.

Last season, he had an impressive loan spell at Wigan, albeit cut short by a knee injury. He has also been capped by the Japanese senior team. This youngster from the land of the Rising Sun has all the qualities to hit stardom.

HECTOR BELLERIN, D.O.B: March 19, 1995 (18 years old)

The young winger turned fullback arrived from the famous ‘La Macia’ academy in Barcelona alongside Jon Toral in the summer of 2012. The teenager is a very efficient right back in the mold of Dani Alves, contributes a good number of goals like the Brazilian . The right back is held in high regard by the academy staff and his one starlet to watch out for.

He starred in last season’s NextGen series and certainly caught the eye in that campaign.

CHUBA AKPOM, D.O.B: October 9, 1995 (17 years old)

For a striker this young, Chuba Akpom’s composure is worth commending. He bagged a lot of goals for the Under-21s last season and his goal haul in the NextGen Series was a pleasant side for Steve Gatting’s side.

The England youth international had an impressive pre-season tour of Asia scoring four goals and was rightly given his Premier League debut in the game against Sunderland following an injury concern to Olivier Giroud. The Nigerian born striker might still have a lot of work to do before attaining world class status, but the future is bright.

THOMAS EISFELD, D.O.B: January 18, 1993 (20 years old)

My personal favorite, the Borussia Dortmund import is one of the most technically gifted players in the arsenal youth team setup. Has the ability to play across the midfield and reminds many gooners of a young Tomas Rosicky. The young German is not new to the senior team as he had a great substitute appearance in Arsenal epic 7-5 victory over Reading in the Capital One cup of last season.

DANIEL CROWLEY, D.O.B: August 3, 1997 (16 years old)

Crowley is regarded as one of the most talented youngsters in England.

Arsenal pulled a master coup in signing him from Aston Villa in the summer. Made his debut in the Aston Villa U-16 team at the tender age of 12; and at 15, was already a key member of both the U-18 and U-21 of the side. A typical ‘No 10’, great eye for goal and for his age, is the best passer of the ball I have seen.

Tagged ‘the new Wilshere’, Daniel could be   the No 10 England have been looking for.

These youngsters would get a chance to show their talents tonight but we would want nothing more than an Arsenal victory to keep the momentum going.

 

Thanks for this insightful post Samuel. Visit his blog and feel free to like his blog’s Facebook page. You can also follow him on Twitter or send him a mail.

Sayonara.

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