The Curious Case of Nicklas Bendtner

By on July 26, 2009

Bendtner Scores Fast Goal By Substitute Ever
Bendtner scores the fastest Premier League goal by a substitute.

By TheArsenalBoy (Munich) – I will start off by saying I am a huge fan of Nicklas Bendtner. I see a world class player in him just waiting for a chance to break out of its shell.  After the summer sale of Emmanuel Adebayor to Manchester City, it appears that chance may have come. Nicklas Bendtner was born in Copenhagen and moved to Arsenal in the summer of 2004, looking like his long-haired Viking ancestors. Since his time in the Reserves, where he struck a prolific partnership with Lupoli, to the end of the 2008/2009 season it can be said that Bendtner’s career at Arsenal has had its ups and downs.

Adebayor Headbutts Bendtner
The Adebyewhore headbutt.

After starting out in the Reserves, much was expected of the young Dane. His strike rate was phenomenal as he showed clear potential to develop into a quality player. It took about a year but he finally earned his first team debut with a substitutes appearance at the Stadium of Light against Sunderland in the League Cup on 25 October 2005. After spending the rest of the season shuffling between the Reserves and the first team, Arsene Wenger decided it was time for him to go out on loan to pick up some more experience. Nick joined up with Championship outfit, Birmingham, and throughout the course of his loan the Danish striker made 48 appearances, scoring 13 goals and notching up 9 assists in all competitions, helping Birmingham achieve promotion to the Premier League. After what can only be described as a massively successful loan spell, Nick returned to the Arsenal in the summer of 2007. He started the season off a bit slow, limited mostly to substitutes appearances and starting places in the League Cup, as Adebayor won Henry’s vacated spot up front. But Nick put his head down and worked hard, making appearances in both the Premier League and the Champions League as well as getting some very successful starts next to Eduardo in the FA and Carling Cups.  Nick seemed to be having a very successful debut season in the first team and had also developed a good partnership with Eduardo. He had his highs including the quickest goal scored by a substitute ever in the Premier League against Spurs to win the match; and, of course, some lows, most notably the on-pitch scuffle with fellow striker and professional egotist, Emmanuel Adebayor, which left Nick bleeding from the nose on the pitch during the club’s 5-1 loss to Spurs in the second leg of the league cup. All in all, it turned out to be a fairly productive season, with Nick making 40 appearances, 17 as a starter, and grabbing 10 goals and 7 assists.

Bendtner Scores Winner Against Kiev In His Pink Boots
The winner against Kiev.

Another tumultuous summer followed at Arsenal and many had pegged Nick, among others, to step up and help the team achieve glory after several trophy-less season. All the hype and expectations placed on Bendtner seemed to be well founded. He had a successful preseason with Arsenal, scoring and generally looking dangerous in the preseason camp and coming off the blocks quick at the beginning of the campaign. A few solid performances in the League as well as a great opening round to the Carling Cup and it seemed like Nick was well on his way to his best season yet at the club. But like many young players, he hit the wall. After the disastrous display away at Turf Moor, it seemed the Dane could do no right and as such became a target of ridicule from his own fans.  Nick would hardly claim that the stick was unfounded as the striker later revealed that he felt he had not played well at times through the season.  But, instead of buckling under the pressure, Nick again put his head down and worked hard.  He made a number of high impact substitutes appearances, at the KC Stadium in the 3-1 win over Hull City as well as a hero’s performance in the Champions League, grabbing a late winner against Kiev at the Emirates to help ensure Arsenal move on the next round.

The hard work was certainly paying off as Nick seemed to win back those parts of the crowd that had begun to doubt his quality.  He seemed to grow in skill and in confidence with each passing game and his phenomenal performance against West Brom, where the big Dane grabbed a first half brace, seemed to signal a complete return to form.  The rest of the season dragged on and Arsenal managed to maintain their Champions League place.  All in all, it was a very disappointing season, but if there was something to be taken from it, it was that Nicklas Bendtner (along with, perhaps, Alex Song) had become a man.  The Danish striker had not had the most straightforward season, but, by the time the final whistle blew on the campaign, he had grown immensely from the player he was in August.  On the year, he ended with 15 goals and 4 assists, but, more importantly, showed that he could score vital goals in big games.  Fifteen goals is nothing to shake a stick at.  He ended only one short of Adebayor (and would have tied him if his game winner at Anfield would not have incorrectly been ruled offsides) and at just 20/21 years of age to grab 15 goals and four assists making mostly substitute appearances for a top four club in England and Europe is amazing.

Nicklas has been biding his time at Arsenal waiting for the day that Adebayor left and I fully expect him to take his chance. Over the past two years he has learned a lot and has developed into a man.  A physical player who is also not afraid to run at defenders, Nick possesses everything a world-class striker needs to have. Although one could make an argument about his finishing, this is something that will be honed with experience.  He has power, pace, and vision.  His link up play is fantastic and his overall attitude is admirable.  He is a player who wants to be the best and wants to win but is still humble enough to know that he has much to learn and much to improve on.  A hole has been left in the Arsenal attack and Nick has the talent, the drive and the attitude to step up further this season and silence his remaining critics.


  1. casicky

    July 27, 2009 at 8:06 am

    I agree wiv u there been flowin Nik rather closely ever since his time at Brum and he doesn’t have everythin in his locker bt he jus does tend to hit a brick wall and take long to get bk to his best but um lookin 4ward to seein how he is goin to take dis season jus hope he steps up even more the same um hopin for 4Song Bilong they both finished the season well jus feel along wiv all the other consistent players if any other players step ie 4ong n Nik then we will really have a chance to pull summ ofm

  2. natsteel

    July 27, 2009 at 8:22 am

    Bendtner’s performances this season will be key to the Arsenal’s fate. This is the moment he’s been waiting for… Adebayor has left and Arsenal don’t look likely to replace him. Even buying someone like Huntelaar is not replacing the type of striker that Bendtner and Adebayor are. Both TheArsenalBoy and I often wonder why Nick comes in for so much stick but his potential at his age is even greater than Adebayor’s and we already know he can score important goals in big games.

  3. Cosious

    August 11, 2009 at 9:07 am

    We all knw bendtner has the potential, i hope he will be more focusd this season. . . Up gunners

  4. ArsenalStation

    August 11, 2009 at 6:53 pm

    I think he was focused enough last season, ending with 15 goals (only one less than Adebayor). I fully believe that with regular minutes he could be a 20-goals per year striker.

  5. Casicky

    August 13, 2009 at 11:51 pm

    Nik and Song did come up the ranks in my book,its like they finally clicked onto the potential that Wenger has always een in them i jus hope this season we could have someone like Diaby start to realise that there is an opportuinity to make a name for yourself ans get into a team that is surely reaching the zone of picking up some silverware.
    I have been harping on so much bout this site pretty much on every article I have read bt it sure is a wonderful relief to finally get on a siter that looks at our team for what it is,which i feel is a team that only needs a single trophy to begin its dominance of this league


    • BendyTheViking

      August 14, 2009 at 3:31 am

      Agree, and that is a rule in most sports. Once you get that first win, you can go on to do great things. The Colts won the Super Bowl shortly after Payton won his first playoff game and the Red Sox won the Series when they finally beat the Yankees. If this team could lift the FA Cup I believe it would be the catalyst they need to drive onto bigger and better things. Wenger had a chance to do that last season and unfortunately he bottled it by sitting Song and Arshavin. Let’s hope he has learned from that mistake and is focused more then ever this season on getting this squad that first prize.

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