Arsene Wenger is odds on to give Olivier Giroud a rest this week as Arsenal take on West Brom in the League Cup, which means Nicklas Bendtner could find himself starting a match with a chance he may not have been expecting.
With Lukas Podolski and Theo Walcott both out with injuries, Bendtner is the most obvious candidate to lead the Arsenal attack.
He appeared as an unused substitute for the match against Stoke City over the weekend, which means his fitness must be improving at a rapid rate. So what exactly should Arsenal fans expect from the Danish forward this week?
Some people will say he should feel very lucky that he’s still playing for the club considering they loaned him out last season and were quite willing to let him leave the Emirates over the summer.
Therefore, he should have a very high level of determination to prove critics wrong and to show Wenger why he should be used on a more regular basis in the Premier League and Champions League.
The chances of those determination levels appearing are enhanced because Bendtner will feel as though he has a point to prove to the fans as well as the club.
Some sections of Arsenal supporters have been very critical over Arsenal’s Danish striker and the easiest way for him to win those fans back is to put in a solid, workmanlike and respectable performance.
Arsenal will try and play their normal, slick brand of attacking football against the Baggies but there are going to be times when they need to play long.
Bendtner is a natural target man because of his height and his power and he stands a great chance of being able to hold the ball up effectively, gradually bringing more creative players into the game.
Don’t expect to see a very high attacking line from the Dane because there are still questions over his fitness and pace.
It’s likely he’ll play on the shoulder where possible, trying to pin the West Brom back four back towards their own goal, which will create space in the midfield for Arsenal’s middle men to exploit.
If Bendtner can push the West Brom defence back, it will also give him a very good chance of getting into simple and easy goalscoring positions.
The best thing that can happen for Bendtner’s confidence is a good performance, his fitness holding up and a goal or two.
The higher up the field he’s playing, the easier it will be for him if the ball is threaded in from one of the wings and he finds himself with a chance inside the West Brom penalty area.
How far a good performance will take him in the short-term or the long-term, is far from clear.
What are you expecting from Bendtner this week?
image: © Ronnie Macdonald