Bendtner's boys add to Arsenal's feelgood factor

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The Independent Online

Nicklas Bendtner believes the Carling Cup exploits of Arsenal's young players shows the future of the club on the field is in safe hands.

The average age of the starting XI for Tuesday night's 2-0 win over Newcastle at Emirates Stadium was 21, with four teenagers in the side.

It proved a sound judgement call by Arsène Wenger, the Arsenal manager, to give youth a chance, as Arsenal looked impressive throughout and eventually booked a place in the last 16 following late goals from Bendtner and his Brazilian team-mate Denilson.

Wenger has no doubts that many of the latest crop of talented youngsters could hold a place down in the first team on a regular basis. Bendtner, 19, could be given his chance to stake a claim during the African Nations Cup early next year, when the likes of Togo striker Emmanuel Adebayor will be away on international duty.

The Danish striker scored his first senior goal for the club with a powerful header, and is in no doubt that being schooled the Arsenal way will bring its own rewards.

"All through the club, including all the young players, everyone knows what it's all about and the way to play football," said Bendtner, back at Arsenal after spending a season on loan with Birmingham. "We play passing football all the time in training. We are all used to it and can all do it and we showed that again.

"At the moment the confidence is really really high," he added. "The win over Newcastle was just another showing of what the club is going through at the moment. We are doing everything really well. Everyone is really happy and wants to play for the club."

Bendtner, though, accepts he will have to be patient, with Adebayor – who scored a hat-trick against Derby last weekend – set to return for the trip to West Ham on Saturday as Arsenal look to maintain their place at the top of the Premier League.

"We have a strong squad at the moment," he said. "Adebayor has done really well against Derby. I am going to hope for my chance. Anything can happen. There will be injuries as well. If I am involved, great. If not, I will keep working hard."

With Arsenal having produced a brilliant start to the season following seven successive wins, and the club's parent company this week returning strong financial results, the victory over Newcastle would seem to suggest the future is bright.

It had all looked so different during the summer as the Gunners faced a somewhat uncertain future following the sale of Thierry Henry to Barcelona and no big-name replacement being bought.

Wenger has money to spend – around £70m – should he wish to do so. The Arsenal manager, however, does not intend to rush out into the January sales just for the sake of it.

He reflected: "Money is there if I want it, but I will only spend it if I think it is necessary. Money is there to help you create a good team, but when you feel you already have a good team, you do not need to spend."

Wenger added: "I believe in this side, and have said that many times. That is not down to how much money is or is not available – it is purely down to the fact that I believe this side is good enough to achieve something together."

Arsenal have reached the top of the table without the services of their captain William Gallas, who has fidgeted on the sidelines since the second league game of the season at Blackburn with a groin problem.

"This is a difficult time for me," Gallas said. "I'm very sad that I'm still injured and I have to be strong in my head. This is my second injury I have had at Arsenal and sometimes you want to know why it is happening.

"I don't want to cry about it but when you work hard, and you feel the pain, it's difficult to accept."

Wenger indicated the centre-half may be in contention to face West Ham, if all goes to plan. However, that may have been somewhat optimistic.

Gallas said in Tuesday night's programme notes: "I don't want to set a target. We are top of the table, though, and playing well so I want to be part of it."

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