Bendtner: Cup win can lead to bigger things
Nicklas Bendtner has challenged Arsenal to win the Carling Cup and use it as a springboard to the Barclays Premier League title.
The Gunners are favourites for the trophy having been drawn against npower Championship strugglers Ipswich in the semi-finals - the first leg is at Portman Road tomorrow night - with either West Ham or Birmingham awaiting them if they reach the final at Wembley.
Much has been made of Arsenal's long run without silverware, the last being the 2005 FA Cup, but Bendtner believes winning the Carling Cup next month would lead to bigger prizes.
"We need to make sure we go there and keep our run going. For me, we have to get to the final of the Carling Cup," Bendtner said.
"It would be fantastic to win a trophy early on in the season and have something to show for our work already.
"Last season, Manchester United won it and went on to take the Premier League too. Let's hope we can do the same."
Bendtner, 23, has found himself on the fringes of the first team again this season, leading to some outspoken comments on his future before Christmas which resulted in him being left out of the squad altogether.
The 23-year-old, who recently became a father for the first time, started Saturday's FA Cup tie against Leeds, playing the full 90 minutes.
Despite a mixed reception for what was a frustrating display in front of goal, Bendtner is again likely to be involved against Ipswich, who today appointed Paul Jewell as manager to replace the axed Roy Keane.
And the young Dane hopes his recent difficult spell is now very much behind him.
"A few things may have been interpreted not exactly the way I said them, but it is true I was disappointed because anyone who isn't playing wants to be in the team, I am no different," Bendtner said.
"But I think I maybe it got talked up a little too much because I also said Arsenal is the club I have been at for a long time and remains the club where I want to play.
"I believe I am good enough to play and there have never been any talks about leaving or anything like that, it is just naturally frustrating if you are not in the side and that's the same for any player.
"All you can do as a player is be patient and keep putting yourself in the manager's mind, hopefully he then picks you. After that it is your responsibility to take the chance."
Arsenal needed a last-minute penalty from captain Cesc Fabregas, who had started on the bench, to grab a 1-1 draw with Leeds in their third round FA Cup tie at Emirates Stadium on Saturday.
And manager Arsene Wenger admits that experience will have acted as a wake-up call ahead of their trip to Suffolk.
"You do think there is a bit of a chance of an upset because you always have a chance at home," said Wenger, who reiterated he could look to bring in a central defender if Sebastien Squillaci's hamstring problem proves serious.
"Overall you want to make a good result in the first leg."
Several thousand Arsenal fans are expected to make the journey to Portman Road, and Suffolk Constabulary have appealed to both sets of supporters to help the tie pass without incident.
Superintendent David Skevington said: "We hope that people celebrate the match sensibly and in the right spirit.
"We will not tolerate anti-social behaviour, violence, racial chanting, mindless vandalism or any alcohol-fuelled disorder.
"We will continue our use of firm but fair policing to ensure the safety of those attending the game and those members of the public wishing to go about their normal business."
Meanwhile, Arsenal today confirmed that former skipper Thierry Henry, 33, has returned to train at the club as he prepares for the forthcoming Major League Soccer season with New York Red Bulls, which begins in March.