Confidence not a problem: Nicklas Bendtner ends the week on top

IT TAKES more than a few missed chances to get Mr Confident down. Nicklas Bendtner spurned a glut of gilt-edged opportunities against Burnley s porous defence last Saturday – a worrying profligacy that would have more harshly punished by better teams th

IT TAKES more than a few missed chances to get 'Mr Confident' down.

Nicklas Bendtner spurned a glut of gilt-edged opportunities against Burnley's porous defence last Saturday - a worrying profligacy that would have more harshly punished by better teams than the Clarets.

But Porto were not so lucky; Bendtner was 40-1 to hit three against the Portuguese on Tuesday night after his horror show the previous Saturday, but became the first Gunner since Alan Smith against Austria Vienna in 1991 to score a home European treble.

"It shows you how football can change very quickly," smiled Arsene Wenger after seeing Bendtner's fantastic turnaround.


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"Nicklas had not lost the confidence, it remains relatively stable. He came back with good focus and the same belief - that is one of his strengths as well."

While he continues to spark debate and division among fans like few other Arsenal players past and present, even the Dane - a man with an ego the size of Scandinavia and a royal girlfriend, Baroness Caroline Luel-Brockdorff - will have been surprised at the rousing applause he received as he was substituted following last weekend's 3-1 win, which put Arsenal level on points with Chelsea, having played a game more.

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It was an extraordinary gesture from the Emirates faithful, especially in light of the over-the-top barracking of Emmanuel Eboue not so long ago.

His wry smile said it all as he made his way off. There will be more chances on another day... and there was just three days later.

"I rate him big time, I really do," former Arsenal striker Paul Merson, with 99 goals in his Highbury career, told the Ham&High this week.

"In fact, I honestly believe Bendtner is destined for great things at Arsenal, he is talented and needs a run, which he is getting now."

Bendtner's confidence is a major factor in Merson's view that the Dane will come good on a consistent basis.

"The thing I love about him is that however badly he is playing or however many chances he missed he will always show for the ball.

"We saw that on Saturday against Burnley. Yes, he missed some chances, but he got in the positions to score and when he didn't he never went missing.

"He will always stay in the box and will never drift out of games. I've seen Emile Heskey - an England international - go missing in games when things aren't going for him. But not Bendtner, and that speaks volumes for the lad."

Former Aston Villa and Liverpool striker turned football pundit Stan Collymore added: "The Burnley game shone a light on his lack of maturity, but he is getting in the positions and that is all that matters.

"I am telling you in five years time Nicklas Bendtner will be a 25 goals a season striker."

But his current goal return continues to raise eyebrows.

The 22-year-old has only scored twice in seven Premier League outings since coming back from a three-month lay-off at the end of January and only 10 in all competitions all season.

Hardly the stats of a man whose swaggering confidence has seen him don pink boots, with rumours of diamond-encrusted footwear to follow.

Tony Cascarino, the archetypal all-elbows centre-forward in his Millwall heyday more than 20 years ago, offered a withering assessment:

"Bendtner is one of those players who prompts fierce debate among fans.

"Is he good enough to play for Arsenal? I don't think he'll ever be a great striker. "He's got a lot of ability but I just don't see him putting it all together."

"He's certainly not as good as he seems to think he is... he has the arrogance of a top player but still hasn't delivered the goods..."

But the one man who he should be impressing, his manager Arsene Wenger, doesn't appear too bothered about his poor goals return.

"I believe he is on the way up in his game and in terms of his contribution," said the Arsenal boss before the Porto win.

"Nicklas is really improving at the moment. He has a good mental strength and, even if he was disappointed with the chances he missed, it will not diminish his desire and confidence.

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