Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner has admitted that it has been a difficult spell watching on from the bench during their rise to the top of the Premier League, but hopes to grasp any further opportunities that come his way in a similar fashion to his goalscoring appearance on Wednesdya night in the 2-0 win over Hull.
Bendtner was making his first start for the Gunners since March 2011, and opened the scoring within two minutes as he headed in Carl Jenkinson’s cross from close range. Having decided to rest regular striker Olivier Giroud, manager Arsene Wenger was quickly vindicated in giving the Denmark international another chance despite cutting a frustrated figure in recent appearances.
Having spent time on loan with Sunderland and Juventus, Bendtner had looked close to an Emirates exit in the summer, only for a deadline day transfer to Crystal Palace to be called off at the last minute after Wenger was unable to bring in a replacement.
Having returned from injury to take his place on the bench, Bendtner struggled in his outings in the Capital One Cup, and of the field was given a Police caution for causing damage to a door in the apartment building where he lives.
But with Arsenal in the middle of a testing run of fixtures, Bendtner was delighted to be given a starting opportunity, and admits it was “fantastic” to score for the first time since the 5-0 FA Cup over Leyton Orient over two-and-a-half years ago.
“It was a fantastic feeling, I think my celebration for the goal was a show of that,” Bendtner said when speaking to Arsenal Player.
“It was my first Premier League game this season, so I am pleased to have scored and that we won.
“It has been difficult for the players who have not been in the team because we have had such good form and the players who have played have been magnificent.
“With the way people play now, it looks like whoever comes in takes it in his stride and goes with it, that showed again because there were a couple of changes and everybody played well.”
There’s not time for the Gunners to sit back and celebrate their victory over the Tigers though.
They entertain an in-form Everton side on Sunday that will be full of confidence after their 1-0 win over Manchester United on Wednesday, before an away trip to Napoli where they have to avoid a three-goal defeat to book their place in the Champions League last 16. Wenger will want at least a draw from that match though, to ensure that they qualify from Group F as the group winners and avoid teams such as Real Madrid, Barcelona and Paris St-Germain in the first knockout round.
They then face both Manchester City away and Chelsea at home in matches that will go a long way to determining whether their lead at the top of the table will remain heading into 2014, and Bendtner admits that the team are taking things one match at a time.
“We are very much looking forward to it because we know this is a very hard period coming up and we need everybody to be focused and sharp, but we will take just one game at a time and try to put the points on the table,” the 25-year-old stressed.