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by Walter Broeckx
Some of us can still remember the CL game at home against Liverpool. When Cesc shot at goal the ball was kept out… by an Arsenal player, Nicklas Bendtner. Yes it was a painful moment for us and certainly for him. He got a lot of stick for this. Some fans declared him unfit to play for The Arsenal again. A little bit hard for a striker at the age of just 20 in those days.
When we crashed out the league cup that season when we lost at Tottenham and he scored an own goal there was the incident with Adebayor who had just came on and apparently had told Bendtner that he was rubbish. Nice teammate….
And another display of bad luck came in the league cup last year. He could have scored 6 goals on his own but could not manage to get the ball past his Danish compatriot Jensen who stands in goal at Burnley. It was his misses that cost us the league cup in that season. Again he got some stick. I think it is just a fact that he doesn’t want to score against Jensen as we could see in the league in March.
So the impatient fans had made up their minds about him: not good enough, not now and never will be. And Bendtner himself? He just stayed calm and said to the whole world that he would come good and that he had all the confidence in his skills to become one of the best strikers in the world.
When I went to the CL match in Liège this season, we met the Danish Gooners supporters club and they were as confident as Nick himself that he would turn to be very good. They couldn’t stop singing about it. And in fact in that game he was a Super Nick because he was the player that brought us back in the game when we were 2-0 down.
So where does he stands in this moment in his career ? Is he really promising at the age of 22 ? Well I think we can compare this best with someone who can be called one of the best strikers of the world now, Drogba. But where was Drogba when he was 22 years old ? Was he a finished product ? Was he banging in the goals with his eyes closed ?
If we take the season 10 years ago, as Drogba is 10 years older than Bendtner we see that Drogba in that season played in the French second division for Le Mans. He played 32 games that season and scored 7 goals. So far Nicklas played 31 games(10 as a sub) and scored 12 goals. Now I don’t know if Drogba had an injury in that season but Nicklas was out for some 3 months this season and one must say that it is a bit more difficult to play in the EPL at that age than it should be in the French second division and it is difficult to come back after a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
Now I know that one season is not telling the whole picture and so I also made the same comparison for the seasons Drogba was starting his career and did it for the same years for Bendtner.
So far Bedntner has played 124 games for Arsenal, and these include many as a substitute, and he scored 36 goals. In fact almost half is his appearances was coming on as a sub. It means that he scores at least in every 4th game so far and keep in mind that in many games he didn’t play 90 minutes.
As Bendnter has now had four seasons with Arsenal I took the same number of years for Drogba and in his first 4 years, remember in the French second Division, he got 72 games and scored 15 goals. This means that Drogba in those 4 years played lesser games and he only managed to score 1 goal in every 5 games.
So if you look at it per season or over a number of seasons for the first years in his career Bendtner has been a better striker than Drogba was and again don’t forget that Bendtner had to do it on a much higher level than Drogba in his days.
Am I saying that Bendtner is a better striker than Drogba ? If you look at his statistics in the same age period I can say yes. Will Bendtner be a better striker than Drogba over the next 10 years ? If he continues his progression the way he is doing now than this is a possibility.
This season has been a mixed season so far for Bendtner. He had to play at the wing in the first games but he was doing good until he got his injury against Tottenham. And when he returned he made some vital goals for us. He made the last minute winner at Hull and did the same trick against Wolverhampton. So since coming back from injury he really proved the doubters wrong.
I cannot predict the future and you will not hear me say that Bendtner will be the best striker in the world. But if we look at what he has done so far at his age, I think he has all the right to be confident about his performances and his goal scoring ratio. And if we stick with the Drogba comparison we can only hope that he continues on his way and maybe in the next 10 years he could be as important for Arsenal as Drogba is for Chelsea now.
I also remember when Drogba came to Chelsea the pundits on Match of the Day made a short video footage on how many times the ball was badly controlled by Drogba. The same thing that is/was being said of Bendtner: poor first touch. So having a poor first touch is something that you can work on as we can see with Drogba over the last years. I think there are not many people around who dare to say something like that when they speak of Drogba now.
Keep it up Nick. Just prove the doubters wrong.
The Untold Index to Everything Positive and Nice (except Fifa and its bent world cup)
Woolwich Arsenal – now there is a club on the brink of disaster
The Book – not as useful as the Hitch hikers guide to the galaxy, but still, quite good for a read during the summer break.