Bendtner fails to deliver as Arsenal cruise through
Nottingham Forest 0 Arsenal 4
Published 21/09/2016 | 02:30
They came to praise Old Big Head but Nicklas Bendtner, on his first start for Nottingham Forest, deliciously against Arsenal, could not deliver.
Instead it was his old club, not his new one, and with goals from two of their new players, rather than an old one, who go forward into the last 16.
The Dane is not the Old Big Head that matters to Nottingham Forest, of course, and however well he does at the club it will be impossible for him to emulate previous achievements, as this third-round tie took place on the 12th anniversary of Brian Clough's death.
Forest tried. But, frankly, they were outclassed by Arsenal's second string. The only irritation for Arsène Wenger came when a fan was allowed to wander into the technical area during the second half and tried to hand him a burger. Wenger looked suitably disgusted - not just at the food - but at the security breach.
Bendtner departed before the end to a generous chorus of praise from the Arsenal fans, despite his chequered nine years at the club, as well as the home ones. But on a night when the striker and Forest wanted to roll back the years it just was not to be.
The priorities, though, were clear. While Forest tinkered with three changes, there were no fewer than 11 made by Wenger, although they did include the selection of big-money summer signings Lucas Pérez and Granit Xhaka (£50 million plus of talent) in a show both of strength and the gulf between the leagues.
And it was Xhaka who - again - made his mark. Halfway through the first half the Swiss midfielder collected possession and drilled a powerful rising shot from 25 yards, which took a crucial deflection of Chris Cohen. Goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic got a hand to the ball but could not prevent going it into the top corner of the net.
Maybe the goal had been against the run of play, but Arsenal continued to create chances, with a swift break on half-time, after a Paitim Kasami mistake, allowing Jeff Reine-Adelaide to send a low shot bouncing narrowly wide.
Arsenal wanted to win but Wenger had made all those changes, which is always a gamble, and was also dressed in a tracksuit - giving the impression that this was not quite full-on business mode - but although his team were far from dominant they were ahead and they did exude that extra quality.
Which is what Bendtner is hoping going to provide at Forest and he had another sight of goal inside the opening seconds of the second half. But he dragged his shot. Forest were again building some momentum and so it was all the more maddening for them when Michael Mancienne, dallying inside his own area, pushed Chuka Akpom as he was caught in possession. The penalty was given and Pérez calmly sent it above Stojkovic's dive to score his first goal for the club.
The Spaniard soon had his second. Again he capitalised on poor defending by Mancienne, as he shoulder-barged him off the ball, ran across the area, evaded another challenge, rounded the goalkeeper and slid the ball home. In injury-time Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain sprinted clear, also went around Stojkovic, and slammed the ball home. It was that emphatic. (© Daily Telegraph, London)