The strange but stronger case of Nicklas Bendtner

Jayanta Oinam

The name is Nicklas Bendtner – the forward who has been on the Arsenal rolls since 2005. He once declared himself as one of the best strikers in the world. Then, a car crash happened in 2009 in the host country, from which he escaped with leg and shoulder injuries, thanked the Almighty for the grace, and followed it up with two season-long loan spells at Sunderland and Juventus. In the midst, in 2011, he also swore not to play, ever, for Arsenal. Then he found himself lost in the wilderness of London, donning strange hairstyles much like his once bench-mate Marouane Chamakh, but nonetheless improving his off the field presence, in tow with Baroness Caroline Luel-Brockdorff.

Now, its 2013-14 season. Arsene Wenger once again convinced himself that it was time to spend big to attract stars and end the trophy drought, for a team which was once known as ‘The Invincibles’. Despite bringing a marquee player, in Mesut Ozil for a record sum; starting the new year as the league leaders, heartening performances in the continental front and domestic cup, Arsenal found themselves in a familiar territory - that of having an overused and limited stock of players.

That`s when Bendtner’s name came calling. Strange as it may read, once bought as a prodigious talent by the Boss in 2004 from the youth academy of FC Copenhagen, the physically imposing Dane hadn`t started for Arsenal in a league tie for a long time, some three seasons. During the period, the likes of Emmanuel Adebayor, Robin van Persie, Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and Alex Song, who had pushed him out of the reckoning, have changed colours in search of silverware and money. However, Bendtner found his name in the starting XI on December 4, 2013, deputizing an over-worked Oliver Giroud, who has stopped scoring goals to the surprise of everyone, against Hull City. Using his formidable physicality and tactical nous, for which he was hailed by Wenger as one to look out for, Bendtner scored using his head, from a jump, against Hull City to set up a 2-0 win. Then, he followed it up with another goal scoring performance against Cardiff City on the New Year`s Day, only to find himself limping off the pitch in the stoppage time.

Now, it`s revealed that Bendtner will be out for some time, may be weeks, depending on the gravity of his injury. His recuperation period will coincide with the onset of January transfer window. So the question is - Will Wenger add another star to his line-up to cure his limping issues while further sidelining the Dane - who is strangely the second highest goal scorer in the current Arsenal ensemble, only behind a more regular starter Theo Walcott.

In 100 odd games for Arsenal, most of which, starting from the bench, he scored 47 goals as compared to Walcott`s 69 from 194 games. Considering Bendtner`s seemingly reconciliatory mood with the club, and the new found love from the Gunners around the world, any arrival should hamper his prospects in the Emirates.