Nicklas Bendtner can win Arsenal fans over with performances, claims Arsene Wenger
The striker is in line for first appearance since 2011 in tonight's Capital One Cup tie against West Brom
Wednesday 25 September 2013
Nicklas Bendtner will only win over Arsenal fans again if he starts delivering on the pitch, Gunners boss Arsene Wenger claims.
Many Arsenal fans thought they had seen the back of Bendtner, but after three loan spells and a botched move to Crystal Palace, the Dane is set to start his first game for the Gunners since March 2011.
Bendtner's uber-confident personality has made him a cult figure among some supporters, but it has grated others, who feel he is too cocky.
Bendtner is likely to start in Wednesday's Capital One Cup game against West Brom and Wenger thinks the striker will only get a good welcome from the Arsenal faithful if he proves he can still cut it at the top level.
"Fans forgive you everything as long as you produce the performances on the football pitch," Wenger said.
"That's what people want. I think our fans have a positive attitude towards Bendtner and they will be behind him.
"Only you can create that with your performances."
The last time Bendtner started a game for the Gunners was on March 5 2011, when Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie and Samir Nasri were on the books at the Emirates Stadium.
After loaning Bendtner to Birmingham, Sunderland and then Juventus, Wenger tried to sell the Denmark international to Crystal Palace in the transfer window, only to see the deal fall through.
But rather than sulk, Bendtner has reacted well, according to Wenger.
"He has responded with a good attitude in training and with good, hard work," the Frenchman said.
"He had nearly gone somewhere else and in the end he stayed because it didn't work out and we needed him here.
"Now he can convince everybody. We are open minded, we believe in his qualities.
"I personally believe in his qualities. It's just down to attitude and fighting spirit.
"When he has that, Nicklas can be an unstoppable striker. He gets his chance. Our job is about that. Take your chance."
Wenger will once again use the competition to blood his youngsters.
Kris Olsson, Chuba Akpom and Hector Bellerin are all likely to feature at the Hawthorns.
Meanwhile, Arsenal winger Theo Walcott has been ruled out for three weeks because he needs stomach surgery.
Walcott was withdrawn from the Arsenal XI to face Stoke last weekend after feeling pain in his stomach, and the Gunners confirmed on Tuesday that he needs surgery.
Walcott will miss England's qualifiers against Montenegro and Poland as well as Arsenal's games against West Brom, Swansea and Napoli.
Wenger hopes to have the 24-year-old back for the game against Norwich on October 19.
Wenger said: "Theo will be out for a few weeks. He has developed some damage to his posterior abdominal wall. It's not a hernia, but it's a little structural problem in his abdomen.
"He will have the procedure in Germany on Wednesday and, because it's so minor, we can begin his rehab immediately."
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