We will now see best of Bendtner, says Wenger
Arsene Wenger has predicted that Nicklas Bendtner will produce the best football of his career in the final defining weeks of Arsenal’s season.
With Robin van Persie, Eduardo and Andrei Arshavin all currently injured, there is now considerable responsibility on the shoulders of Bendtner, who will play as the most advanced striker in Wenger’s preferred 4-2-3-1 Champions League system.
Bendtner missed almost three months of the season with a groin problem that eventually required surgery, but led the line in the 1-0 win against Liverpool last week and is almost certain to be asked to perform that same role in Porto tonight.
"I think we will see the best of him now as he is getting to the best age for a striker,” said Wenger. “Of course, he will still improve and learn a lot but, at 22, you have to start to play at the top level. Nicklas is a boy who has a big potential.
"He arrived at the age of 15 and we work very hard with these players to get them to a level where they are today. Of course, we do not believe in a player for four or five years and then suddenly stop because people say you should buy a striker.
"We have a line of conduct and we keep believing in what we have done up until now and we hope they pay us back."
Bendtner said he was now determined to prove himself following his lengthy injury and is confident that, even without Arshavin, Van Persie, Eduardo, William Gallas, Alex Song and Manuel Almunia, Arsenal can gain a positive result this evening.
“We have a great group of players,” he said. "All the players here have proved they belong at the top level and they have done fantastically well."