Bendtner wants to lead Arsenal title challenge

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The Independent Football

Nicklas Bendtner is ready to grab the chance to finally establish himself as an Arsenal first team regular - and sustain their title hopes - ahead of a trio of crunch Barclays Premier League games.

And the Denmark international is confident the Gunners are "capable of winning every game" after hauling themselves back into contention via a 10-game unbeaten run which has yielded 24 points.

Bendtner returned after a three month lay-off following groin surgery as a substitute in last night's goalless league clash at Aston Villa.

It is a timely comeback as Eduardo suffered a hamstring strain which Gunners boss Arsene Wenger confirmed would rule him out of Sunday's home meeting with Manchester United.

With Robin van Persie still sidelined with the ankle injury sustained on international duty with Holland, it is an opportunity for Bendtner to prove his worth, especially with Wenger reported to be searching for a new striker.

The Gunners visit Chelsea and then entertain Liverpool after facing the Red Devils.

Bendtner said: "We have a lot of big games coming up. I've only trained one time with the team and played half an hour at Villa and everything feels okay.

"We will see how I am during the week and hopefully things will keep progressing so I will be 100% when the weekend comes.

"If Eduardo is out, am I ready to come in? I wouldn't be here if I was wasn't ready. If I play Sunday, I will be ready as well and Manchester United is the sort of big game you'd love to come back into.

"Is this a chance to become the number one striker? That is my plan. Is it achievable? Of course.

"Why am I so confident? It is simple. I am a good player. I've always had that belief. People ask me everytime we speak 'why are you like that?' and that's just the way it is.

"If I didn't think I could do it, I wouldn't be standing here telling you I could!"

Bendtner admitted: "These games coming up will have a big bearing on the title. We have fought to get ourselves into a good position.

"We have three big matches, and a few more which are quite important, and we need to get as many points as we can from those.

"We have done really well. We have got ourselves into a great position now where we are fighting at the top of the league.

"We know why we have got here and we are capable of winning every game and winning the championship and that is why we are focused."

Bendtner does not believes United's gruelling Carling Cup extra-time semi-final win over Manchester City will hand Arsenal an advantage for Sunday's game.

He said: "People ask if the semi-final will have taken a lot out of United but they are a big team, they prepare well for every game and I am sure they will be just as ready as we are on Sunday."

Bendtner is delighted to be back in action after such a lengthy lay-off after aggravating his groin problem against Tottenham in late October.

He said: "It is so good to be back and to taste the atmosphere, the smell of the grass, everything. It is just fantastic.

"I don't think you realise when you are out for so long how much you miss it and, when you come back, you are so happy."

Wenger was today awaiting the results of x-rays to determine the extent of defender Thomas Vermaelen's leg injury sustained at Villa Park admidst fears he may have suffered a fracture.