Bendtner leads Arsenal youth to victory by Twig
Nicklas Bendtner’s pass to Eisfeld was delightful; almost Cesc-like. Had the pass come from Arsenal new signing, Mesut Ozil, I’m sure we would all have been glowing about the assist all day long – even if he didn’t do much else after that. But since it was Nicklas Bendtner, the reception has been a little bit muted.
Yesterday, it was a very difficult night for us. We had youngsters like Miyaichi, Akpom, Gnabry, Bellerin, Hayden and Eisfeld battling it out with West Brom’s more experienced campaigners and coming out not too badly. When Arteta was forced off through injury, Nicklas Bendtner provided one of the few experienced heads and leaders we had on the pitch: this was showcased by him making the difficult decision to take the first penalty kick, which paved the way for the youngsters to follow. It was a risky move, which if it had gone wrong, would have had him slaughtered by the Arsenal Fans and would have damaged his confidence almost irredeemably. But Nicklas Bendtner, seemingly oblivious of the danger he was putting himself in, and still chewing his gum, stepped up and coolly dispatched his kick.
His all round play was impressive as well. Although he was a bit rusty and lacking in sharpness, his passing and hold-up play was top notch. WhoScored gave him a rating of 7.6, which was the highest of any Arsenal player on the pitch. For a big guy, his playmaking qualities, which I’ve commented on before, are impressive and he distributed the ball well. I felt he played more like a Number 10, or 9 and a half as Rooney would say, than an out and out striker. He reminded me a bit of Michu with his display yesterday; his best position might actually be behind a main striker, where he could set him up with carefully weighted passes.
He wasn’t perfect though – far from it – as he missed a one-on-one with the keeper after waiting too long. But this happens to the best of them as well, especially if the pressure to score is too much, which was certainly the case for Nicklas Bendtner – remember Robben vs Casillas in the 2010 World Cup finals? But overall, with his assist and first penalty kick, Nicklas Bendtner was the most decisive player for Arsenal on the night.
Although this article is about Nicklas Bendtner, Hector Bellerin and Chuba Akpom gave very intriguing performances.
Both players played out of position. Bellerin is a right fullback who played as a central midfielder and Akpom is a striker who played as a right winger. On the strength of yesterday’s showing, at least, Akpom should be preferred over Gnabry and Miyaichi for the right wing place. He took on players, was quick, and showed incredible maturity to dispatch his penalty. Bellerin gave us drive in the midfield and was one of the reasons why we were not overrun in extra time. I would like to see a more detailed article on the performances of these two players soon.