“Within five years I want to be the top scorer in the Premier League and I want to be known as a world-class striker. And it will happen. Trust me, it will happen.”
These were the famous words uttered by Arsenal ’s shooting (and missing) machine, Nicklas Bendtner in an interview with the Guardian last year.
Less than five months have passed since that interview, and Bendtner’s form has resembled anything but that of a future world-class striker. After 21 appearances this season, including 13 starts, the Dane has a meagre tally of five goals to show for his efforts.
However, ahead of Burnley ’s trip to the Emirates this weekend, Nicklas must have thought his luck was about to change.
Burnley were not bad away from home, they were absolutely—downright—positively—pathetic—on—so—many—levels—woefully—terrible.
From a possible 42 points (more than enough to secure safety in the League), the Clarets had taken just one.
Was Burnley unlucky in all these away losses? Was it close shaves, with them just missing out on the points?
Nope. Three conceded at Chelsea, four at Liverpool, five at Spurs, three at Manchester City, three at Manchester United, and a further five at Aston Villa.
If ever there was a match for Bendtner to rake in goals like a top draw hitman, this match was it.
However, Arsenal’s main striker failed to score. Actually, he did much worse than that.
He missed one chance in front of the goal.
And then a second one.
The teams went in for the half time break, and because of his misses, Arsenal were only in front by a goal. Clearly manager Arsene Wenger felt the situation required improvement, and pushed his troops for a second goal.
So Theo Walcott came out, beat everyone on the right wing, and passed it to Bendtner.
He missed an open goal, again.
And again, a few minutes later.
Walcott got impatient and scored himself, but cooler heads prevailed afterwards and he resumed passing to his striker partner, Bendtner.
Who blasted it wide once more.
The painful pattern of poor attempts at scoring continued, as Arsenal fans pulled their hair out. Burnley meanwhile, must have been wondering when they signed a big Danish centre back.
Finally, Arsene Wenger decided to spare his “future world class striker” any further embarrassment, by substituting him. The Dane received huge applause from the Arsenal fans in attendance, probably because they were relieved he would not be around to miss anymore chances in front of goal.
With regards to today’s performance by Bendtner, some will simply see it as a one-off; a freak occurrence that will not repeat itself.
Others however, will see it as irrefutable proof that Nicklas Bendtner will never be good enough to play as a first choice striker for a team as big as Arsenal.
Based on the statistics mentioned earlier about his season thus far, coupled with today’s performance, I do not see Bendtner becoming a World beater.
That said, whatever conclusion the Arsenal faithful and footballing world come to, at this moment in time, we can smile and laugh.
“I look around at other players, I see my own ability and I can't see anything that tells me it won't happen. I'm sure people will think 'What is he talking about?' But as I have done before, and as I will do again, I will sit at the other end and laugh at those people when it is all done.”
Maybe you will, maybe you will not. For now at least, everyone else is laughing..loud and very clearly.