Arsenal

Nicklas Bendtner and Olivier Giroud Leave Arsenal with FA Cup Striker Crisis

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 01:  An injured Nicklas Bendtner of Arsenal is congratulated by team mate Theo Walcott (R) as he scores their first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Cardiff City at Emirates Stadium on January 1, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Tom SunderlandFeatured ColumnistJanuary 3, 2014

Arsenal have been left with an offensive conundrum for this weekend's FA Cup third round tie against Tottenham after it was revealed Nicklas Bendtner would not recover in time for the North London derby.

The official Arsenal Twitter account confirmed the Dane would be absent through injury, while illness also means first-choice Olivier Giroud is a doubt for the clash:

Bendtner has recently laid some good groundwork in winning over his Premier League critics, and came on to strike an 88th-minute opener in the New Year's Day fixture against Cardiff City earlier this week.

However, the 25-year-old took a knock to his ankle in the process and was forced off the pitch moments after sending the Emirates Stadium into jubilation.

It confirms the fears of those who might doubt the depth of Wenger's squad, particularly in attack, where Giroud has reigned as the sole striker for the vast majority of Arsenal's campaign.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 01:  Nicklas Bendtner of Arsenal turns away in celebration as he scores their first goal past goalkeeper David Marshall of Cardiff City (grounded) during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Cardiff City at Emira
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Although the Frenchman is ill, Giroud might be risked for the FA Cup collision against Arsenal's bitter rivals, but that would then put future appearances at risk, should the striker's condition worsen.

Instead, the Gunners' chief may opt to use either Lukas Podolski or Theo Walcott through the middle, both of whom have played as more centralised attackers in their careers.

Walcott was used as a striker during another Giroud absence last season, and it was during this time that the England international netted a hat-trick and recorded two assists in a 7-3 thumping of Newcastle United, per Transfermarkt.co.uk, leading to calls for Wenger to utilise the attacker there more often.

However, Walcott isn't bitter about playing out wide, and was recently reported by ESPN as saying he'd welcome attacking reinforcements in January: 

Another, less likely, route is that Wenger fields one of his less experienced assets up front. Yaya Sanogo continues to struggle with a back injury that has prevented him from making his first Premier League start, but the highly-rated Serge Gnabry may hope to get a look-in.

The unenviable situation Wenger now finds himself in is the realisation of fears that many an Arsenal fan will have been dreading in recent months, after the club became so dependent on the success of Giroud for the first half of the 2013-14 campaign.

News of Ozil's possible absence doesn't make for good reading from an Arsenal perspective, either, and with Aaron Ramsey out, the Gunners could suffer from a lack of creation this weekend.

Spurs, meanwhile, have recently discovered an extra resource after Tim Sherwood's decision to draft Emmanuel Adebayor back into the squad looks to have paid off.

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 26:  Mesut Oezil of Arsenal is watched by Mark Noble of West Ham United during the Barclays Premier League match between West Ham United and Arsenal at Boleyn Ground on December 26, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Ian Walton
Ian Walton/Getty Images

The Togolese striker scored during Tottenham's 2-1 win over Manchester United earlier in the week, and will be on a high with the rest of his squad following that result at Old Trafford.

From one English giant to the next, Spurs will be hopeful of taking advantage of the Gunners' predicament, ensuring that their rivals' FA Cup run ends this weekend.

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