Nicklas Bendtner happy with Arsenal form

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Arsenal's hat-trick hero Nicklas Bendtner feels he is finding form at just the right time as the injury-hit Gunners look to show they have come of age by knocking Champions League favourites Barcelona out of Europe next week.

The Denmark striker, 23, smashed a treble as Arsene Wenger's men bounced back from the disappointment of defeat to Birmingham in the Carling Cup final at Wembley with a 5-0 thrashing of Leyton Orient which set up an FA Cup sixth-round trip to Manchester United.

With Robin van Persie facing at least a month on the sidelines, there is a vacancy at the head of Arsenal's attack as Wenger prepares for the trip to the Nou Camp - where the Barclays Premier League title challengers will take a slender 2-1 lead, but must also do without England winger Theo Walcott while skipper Cesc Fabregas faces a fitness test on his hamstring.

Bendtner netted the opening goal in what turned out to be a 4-1 quarter-final second-leg defeat against the same side last season.

However, with a niggling groin injury now seemingly behind him, the young Dane is confident things will be different this time around against Lionel Messi and co.

"I believe now I am getting back to where I belong, and there are still improvements," Bendtner said.

"It is going well, but we are a team and it will be the team which wins in Barcelona, not just one player."

Bendtner continued: "I feel that in the last month, I have definitely improved, also it is due to my injury being completely finished and you can see that on the pitch.

"Last season, I played for a little bit when I was half injured, but there was no-one else, so I sort of just go through it and did my best.

"Now, I am pleased with my progress, to be here and have gotten back to the way I want to play."

Bendtner has been deployed in a variety of attacking roles across the frontline.

The Denmark forward, though, would relish the chance of playing straight down the middle against Barcelona.

"I prefer to play up front, I have never hidden that fact, but if the manager asks me to do a job on the right, in a bit of a different role where I can come inside as well, then you have just got to play there to help the team," he said.

"But you never feel quite alone because you have Cesc or someone else behind you, and the two wide players are good to push in, so when we get that going, it sometimes seems like there are even more players in attack."

Bendtner added: "Arsenal is about the team, and we are proving that all the time.

"When everyone does their job well, we win the games.

"It does not matter who scores the goals as long as we win."

Arsenal certainly produced a composed collective display to see off the challenge of the npower League One side, who had earned a money-spinning fifth-round replay with a last-minute equaliser at Brisbane Road 10 days ago.

Marouane Chamakh set the Gunners on their way with his first goal since the end of November, before Bendtner's well-taken double.

The Dane completed his treble from the spot on the hour, with full-back Gael Clichy netting a rare effort to drill in number five.

Neither centre-back Laurent Koscielny, officially rested because of a minor hamstring problem, nor keeper Wojciech Szczesny, who was on the bench, were involved last night, the duo taken out of the spotlight after their terrible mix-up gifted Birmingham a dramatic late winner at Wembley.

Bendtner, though, maintains those painful memories have already been put out of the players' minds.

"It was just what we needed to bounce back in a positive way," he said.

"The games come so fast, so it is important to forget about Wembley, learn from it and move on.

"We have the players and the mentality to create something special."

Next up is the visit of Sunderland on Saturday afternoon, when Arsenal will be looking to keep the pressure on leaders United, whom they trail by four points but now with a match in hand after the Red Devils' midweek defeat at Stamford Bridge.

"It was a great result by Chelsea, but we still have to take advantage of it against Sunderland," Bendtner said.

"If we don't, then it does not really matter."

Comments