Ahhh, Nik Bendtner, a player so Marmite, I'd imagine even his parents have a divided opinion on him. He's been with Arsenal since he joined from Kjøbenhavns Boldklub in 2004 and he's had many ups and downs in a career boasting less punch than an Audley Harrison fight.
His fledgling Arsenal journey started off in prolific fashion. He was the next big name on the block scoring 29 goals in the reserve team pairing up with Italian goal poacher Arturo Lupoli. He was soon ready to take his talents to the Championship, landing a spell at Birmingham City where he managed to bag himself a healthy 11 goals in his first season there.
He was ready to come back and fight for his place in the Arsenal first team. He was a kind of anti-striker when comparing him to greats like Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry. Two fingers up to tippy-tappy football. A plan B if you will. He isn't particularly fast, his first touch could be described as heavy and his lack of interest in hanging around in the box often frustrated Arsenal fans. He could pop up with the important goals though. One of his most memorable was coming off the bench at the Emirates to power home a superb header with his first touch against our biggest North London Rivals in 2008. That was the type of goal Arsenal had been missing for a while and we hoped we'd latched onto a gem.
However, rumours that Nik's ego was taking up two seats on the team bus started circulating. He was part of the Carling Cup team destroyed by Spurs at White Harte Lane. When a corner was about to be taken, he found himself in an altercation with Adebayor who was rumoured to have said 'I'm on the pitch because you're s***' which he followed up with a head butt. Grossly unfair, but a sure sign that telling the world you're the next Diego Maradona isn't the quickest way to enamour yourself with team mates and fans.
Bendtner's international career went from strength to strength over the next season, but his game time at Arsenal was generally limited to second half appearances as a sub. His goal tally was always deemed ok, but not spectacular enough to merit a start. His work rate was called into question in a major way and the crowd started to groan and jeer his presence. Arsenal weren't good enough for egotistical passengers who weren't delivering.
He even managed to bag a player of the month along with a 9 goals and 5 assists in 13 odd starts. He worked hard for the team, tirelessly chased lost causes and changed fan perception
2009-2010 represented his best season, a pivotal turning point in his reputation with Arsenal fans. With no suitable striking option at the turn of the year, he popped up with a hattrick against Porto in the Champions League and he nodded in a number of last gasp winners to keep Arsenal's hopes of Champions League football alive. He even managed to bag a player of the month along with a 9 goals and 5 assists in 13 odd starts. He worked hard for the team, tirelessly chased lost causes and he changed fan perception with some rousing displays. Le Grove set up a group called NBAS (Nik B Appreciation Society) on Facebook which in its prime boasted 132 members.
The good times wouldn't last though...
Last season, he suffered a major set back when Arsenal signed free transfer Marouane Chamakh. Wenger had tracked the Moroccan for the best part of 3 years and everyone knows, regardless of talent, if Wenger has put his name to a player, he'll play him no matter how poor he is.
Nik was given a few chances, but Arsene Wenger showed how much respect he had for the Dane’s talent by regularly using the cumbersome forward as right-winger. Putting someone with pace of a three legged carthorse outwide is never going to work. His season was registered a fail when in the last moments of the Champions League quarter-final in the Camp Nou, he was slipped in with a great pass, instead of finishing with his left foot, he opted to control it with his right allowing Barcelona to scramble the ball away. Guardiola said,
"We were a bad Bendtner touch away from being eliminated from the Champions League"
Nik was on the Arsenal scrap heap. He'd recently signed a new deal with the club for a whopping £52,000 a week and he showed his lack of respect for the global recession by selecting his squad number as 52. That killed my love for him. We were over. It wasn't me, it was him, and that's what hurt the most.
The simple fact is, Nik B could be a top striker for a middle tier club like Spurs. He's an intelligent player with good feet and he's a towering presence of awkwardness in the box. The reason he hasn't made it at Arsenal is...
1) His finishing has never been sharp enough
2) He's never really been given a proper run in our team
3) He needs a team built around his strengths which are aerial balls into the box with a striker feeding off him
4) He's not a f******** right winger.
Nik B has found himself on the Wenger black list. There's no way back for him. The guy's attitude is well above his station. Proclamations of greatness before he's mastered the basic 3 yard pass haven't helped him. Missing simple chances have made him a laughing stock and my abiding memory of him will be the synchronised groans at the emirates every time he his squad number flashed up when we were chasing a game, the fact that he married a Princess and that time he rolled out of a night club with his trouser down by his ankle, citing a lack of a belt, not a concoction of too much booze as his excuse.
Nothing 'Arry can't handle eh?
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