Is the Emirates Great Dane even better than Thierry Henry, apparently so!
Much maligned Emirates striker Nicklas Bendtner proved he has the pedigree to succeed at the highest level by capping a fine performance with a hat-trick last night. Bendtner is another one of Arsene Wenger’s stars who has come under much criticism this season from supporters and pundits alike. Fans of the young striker point to his age and his steady progression. His critics site a simple hat-trick, two tap-ins and a penalty, as little evidence that Bendtner can make the grade as an Arsenal regular and become a world-class player. Yet since he has returned to the team and provided a focal point for attack defences have been unsettled and Arsenal have returned to winning ways.
Goal scoring apart Bendtner worked tirelessly for the team. He gave Arsenal a physical presence that allowed them to play the ball long as required and ran the two experienced Porto centre-halves ragged. His first touch was good, his link play and willingness to both drop deep and work the channels were excellent.
Tony Cascarino has stated the case for the prosecution, “Nicklas Bendtner is one of those players who prompts fierce debate among fans. I don’t think he’ll ever be a great striker. He’s got a lot of ability but I just don’t see him putting it all together. He’s certainly not as good as he seems to think he is.”
So how good is Bendtner? His goals last night are worth looking at.
The first was a very un-Arsenal like goal. He slid in and risked getting hurt. The type of goal Arsenal have not scored regularly since Ian Wright hung up his boots. Moreover, the type of goal that Arsenal has needed to score over the past 5 years.
His second was created by Arshavin. A tap-in? Well technically yes but how many times did Robert Pires et al create tap-ins for Henry and yet nobody was disparaging about Henry. His third goal was a penalty. Easy? True it was not a pressure situation from a result perspective but the boy was on a hat-trick facing the Brazil reserve goal keeper.
Bendtner is no Henry. Bendtner has different physical attributes and will never be Henry. However, lets compare the records of the two players at a similar age?
Henry had scored 3 goals two against Saudi Arabia and one at the end of a 3-0 win against South Africa. Bendtner has 11 goals scored in friendly and world cup qualifier games against the likes of Germany, Portugal and Czech republic. At club level Henry had scored 31 at the same age as Bendtner, while Bendtner has scored 45 goals.
Bendtner is no Henry but all the evidence suggests that he may mature into a top class striker. Whilst there are dissenting voices at the Emirates the majority sang his name before the game started last night and applauded him when he left the pitch on Saturday. The boy told the Arsenal staff he would make the first team and he has subsequently told them he will be the premier leagues top scorer within five years. Who’s arguing?