News From The Grove

Bendtner Bursts Bolton Bubble

Posted in Arsenal by Our Correspondent on January 11, 2009
nicbendtnerSeven games unbeaten, yet very unconvincing. That’s how the performance against Bolton was yesterday. Although we did manage to take the precious three points, which helped us stay close to United and Villa, there were dangers of dropping points in that game. It took us 84 minutes to break down the stubborn defence of the Trotters. Arsene Wenger admitted that
the players found it difficult to breach the wall of Bolton, who showed no attacking instinct whatsoever. Wenger said:

“We gave absolutely everything to win the game and they gave absolutely everything to play for 0-0. In the end, in the last 20 minutes, you could see that we started to create chances. You can only say that they gave a lot and defended very well, they were physically strong. But we gave a lot as well and it was a bit of quality, which made the difference. If you don’t score it is difficult, because you have to go forward and take a gamble. You hope not to make a mistake defensively and keep the balance right, and that’s never easy. So, overall, I think we did that well. We looked stable defensively and we know we can score goals.”

Although Arsenal are out of this year’s race to the league title, Wenger believes that there is still an outside chance of holding aloft the title in May. (In his first full season, Gunners overturned a 12-point deficit to take the title). According to him, the team would try and win every game and finish as high as possible on the table. He said:

“We are focused, we are resilient and we are strong. We are ready for a fight and let’s hope to be consistent. We will take it game by game and see where we go. I just hope to look back in May and say between January and May that we have done as well as we could. As long as we can be proud of what we have achieved, that is the best attitude. We will then see where we stand.”

However, if the team performs like it did yesterday, there are high chances that we could end up losing the 4th spot to Villa. Bolton were depleted due to injuries and suspensions and had only four outfield players as substitutes, yet we couldn’t carve them open. The performance showed that we need a creative midfielder urgently. Samir Nasri was given the central role, with Diaby, who was later replaced by the talented Vela, on the left.

Robin van Persie saw his shot hit the post and his volley flying just over the cross bar. Adebayor received an inch-perfect pass from Nasri, however, a moment’s hesitation allowed Andy O’Brien to race across and block the shot.

Nicklas Bendtner, who replaced Emmanuel Eboue in the 75th minute, had a disastrous start. The boo-boys were in action when Bendtner twice passed to the opponents and he was rewarded with an ironic cheer when he laid a short pass to a teammate. Bendtner soon redeemed himself, when Clichy dodged a couple of Bolton players before passing it to Van Persie. The Dutchman’s cross found the big Dane at the far post, who edged ahead of Samuel before smacking a delightful volley between Jussi Jaaskelainen’s legs.

Commenting on Bendtner’s problems initially, Wenger said:

“It was so cold and Nicklas, coming on late in the game, had no time to warm up. We had to finish up with good old-fashioned 4-2-4 to get a result. “

How long we have to play the ‘old-fashioned 4-2-4’ to get results is anybody’s guess. Wenger still refuses to confirm our interest in Arshavin or any other player. There are no confirmed news of transfer activities within the club.

There are reports however that Arsenal have decided to increase their bid for the Russian playmaker to GBP 12 million, after Zenit St Petersburg rejected their initial GBP 10 million offer. Zenit spokesman Alexei Petrov said:

“I can confirm that Zenit did get an official offer from Arsenal about Andrei Arshavin. It was rejected as insufficient. They offered about GBP 10 million. No new offers have arrived from them since. At the moment, Arsenal are the only club to have approached us about the player.”

It is reported that Arsenal may well break the club’s transfer record of GBP 13 million paid for Sylvain Wiltord more than eight years ago. Whether it is enough to land Arshavin remains to be seen.