Man to watch vs Braga: Nicklas Bendtner
The squad for tonight looks rather shallow with a number of players missing with various reason giving it a kind of Carling Cup look. But we can assure you it is indeed a Champion’s League fixture tonight and it is one of those matches where we put our squad depth to the test. Gael Clichy will miss the match through a back injury and Vermaelen and Diaby remain sidelined. Aaron Ramsey and Manuel Almunia have played 45 minutes tonight in a different fixture to regain fitness and thus are not available for tonight. Arshavin and Robin v. Persie are set to be rested, the former because of playing back to back matches and the latter due to yet unknown reasons. Cesc Fabregas could also not feature in this match. This makes way for players such as Tomas Rosicky, Jack Wilshire, Carlos Vela, Kieran Gibbs, Emmanuel Eboue and Nicklas Bendtner who have been mainly on the bench this season.
Nicklas Bendtner is set to start today and with a point to prove. He had been complaining recently about how he deserved to start after he returned to fitness which was kind of absurd at that time as Chamakh was in form and Bendtner was surely behind a fit RVP in pecking order. But, Chamakh has been very plain in recent games and RVP seems to lack fitness which should prompt the manager to give this issue a second thought. This indeed could be a make or break match for the Dane. If he can perform as good as his confidence seems to imply, then surely he could get a string of starts in the next couple of weeks. With only 5 league appearances this season,all of which were from the bench, Bendtner has been only a shadow of the player he was last season with constant injuries. This is an auspicious fixture for the Dane as he was very much a Champion’s League player last season scoring 5 goals which made him one of the top scorers of the competition. But will today’s depleted Arsenal team be able to feed Bendtner at a ground where it has never played before? With key players missing in midfield, it might require Bendtner to shift it up a gear and provide a strong individual performance today. The current Arsenal team is bigger and more competitive than ever before and a good performance is no longer ‘good enough’. Nicklas Bendtner, although lacking in certain departments, has one quality that many Arsenal players seem to lack at the moment- confidence. If he can take advantage of this strength tonight, I fully expect Arsenal to beat Braga and get the upper hand in our group.