Can Bendtner Do A Van Persie?

Robin van Persie played in the first 11 league games of the season. During that period we scored 36 goals, averaging a cool 3.3 goals per game. Since his injury we have managed another 27 in 16 games. Of course, I wouldn’t say this is down to his absence alone. Bendtner too was out for most of this period and Eduardo missed large phases as well. In effect, we have been without three first choice strikers.

It’s not difficult to see why some people wanted a striker signing. I think Wenger wanted to sign one as well but he didn’t find a top quality player who could hit the ground running. Some people read famous names that are bandied about in the media and feel that player can just come in and solve everything. The more balanced observers know that it can always go either way.

Now that the transfer window has come and gone and Bendtner has returned to fitness, it does not make sense to dwell on the what ifs. The most important question at the moment is whether Bendtner can do the job Wenger and fans expect from him and one he has always been confident of performing.

If we can reproduce our early season scoring form, and we should because we have only one game remaining against the five tightest defenses in the league, we can come close to the 100 goal mark and have a great shot at the title. By the way, I was really surprised when I realized the tiny Totts were amongst the five best defenses in the league based only on goals conceded.

In some ways, the Danish player of the year fits the bill as a big, tall central striker that a lot of fans have been demanding. I’ve often said that height is not our main concern and we need other qualities in the striker. In that sense Van Persie was developing into the perfect player for us until his unfortunate injury. Can Bendtner take over?

I am not sure he can. This is not an attempt to criticize an up and coming player. I really like him and I think he has enough ability to be a big player for us in the future. And I also consider him better than the likes of Carlton Cole, Huntelaar, and such others with whom we had been linked. But there is a clear difference in class between these players and the likes of RvP, Rooney, and Drogba.

Some might consider it unfair to compare a youngster with established strikers. I don’t think it’s unfair, it’s just a matter of fact comparison.

In order for a striker to be successful in our new system, he needs to have phenomenal ability with his back to goal. That is an extremely rare quality and one that does not develop without experience. A great first touch and the vision to bring others into play supplement the ability to hold the ball up with ones back towards the goal. Height and strength are useful attributes but not prerequisites for success.

Even an experienced campaigner like Van Persie took some time to adapt to the new formation and his new role. But once he got the hang of it, the whole team reaped the rewards. Something similar happened to Eduardo as well. In his first few games in a central role, he wasn’t too comfortable. But once he got used to the role, he was able to play some nice one-twos around the box and bring others like Cesc and Arshavin into play.

Our Russian magician also struggled in this role mainly because he prefers running towards the goal instead of facing away from the goal.

Height is important but it can be overcome with technique and experience. And some people confuse the idea of holding the ball and consider height to be an important part of it. Being tall can only help in receiving some long balls, no one keeps heading the ball to hold it up. Top strikers use their feet and upper body strength to hold the ball. Someone like Hleb was a master at this even with his slight frame. Even if you look at the counter attacks that United had against us, Rooney received the ball with his feet and held it up by using his upper body.

Anyway, I don’t want to get into the technical details and the issue of height. The point is, Bendtner will take time to adapt into this role in spite of his height and physical presence. I cannot see him having an impeccable first touch right now. Similarly, I am not sure he will have the vision necessary to bring others into play.

An important question for Arsene is, should we expect Bendtner to adapt or should we adapt our game to suit his skills? The obvious answer would be that one player should adapt and it does not make sense for everyone else to change to suit the striker.

We might get a better idea if we think of the young Dane’s strengths. He was brilliant for Denmark in the qualifiers as he excels in the role of a classical center forward. That means he is at his best when playing inside the box, receiving crosses and through balls from all sides.

When Bendtner drops deep or comes farther away from the box, he struggles to keep the ball and move it quickly. This pushes the whole team deeper. We struggle with our defense when we are pushed deeper and slowly the whole thing leads to chaos. Against smaller teams we win the ball back quickly enough and the damage is limited but it might not be the same in some tricky away games that we have.

In such a situation we might be better off in moving to a little more conventional system with a 4-4-2 or a 4-4-1-1 with Arshavin sitting in behind. This allows us to keep Bendtner higher up the pitch and use his height and presence. In other words, we play to his strength.

The obvious risk is that it takes some time for everyone to adapt to any new system no matter how good they are. Some might also say we are really poor with crosses and there is no guarantee that it will work.

Another argument for sticking with the present system is that Bendtner will not learn unless he plays in that role. And we need him to develop these skills. The counter argument could be that we need to develop multiple systems and not be predictable!

Wenger has to balance the risk of Bendtner struggling in a Van Persie role or some of the other players struggling in a change of system. I’m really hoping we find the right solution because the Cup is withing striking distance.


27 Responses to Can Bendtner Do A Van Persie?

  1. ryan says:

    i agree with everything you said apart from the last paragraph.

    i don’t really see how the cup is in striking distance. we’re trailing after only the first leg of the final 16. to win would take successive good results in 6 more games vs the best teams in europe. personally i would say unless we get to the semis we are a very long way from considering the champions league seriously.

    • desigunner says:

      Sorry, I meant to say League as the discussion was about games left in the league. As I was typing I mentally pictured the players and Arsene with the Premiership trophy and ended up writing “Cup” 🙂

  2. ryan says:

    in fact mathematically we’re only halfway through the cl!

  3. venky says:

    striking distance??!!! what striking distance ?, you were either in hangover or possibly out of your mind while writing about whatever cup you supposed

  4. John Muhindo says:

    Bendtner is not reliable sometime his on or off form.The only way forward is that when arsenal is on form goals come from any player. Therefore let us pray that the team gains form.

  5. Aussie Jack says:

    Desi…Are you sure of your stats. Van Persie scored a hatrick and more in each of his eleven appearances
    Thirty six goals in eleven apperances WOW!I must have misread your article.

  6. oz_gooner says:

    I have mentioned this a couple of times before but i seem to get no response from it..

    What u have said in this article about bentnder makes a LOT of sense.. hence this is why a particular formation Wenger used on man utd in the first round at the emirates in 2008 seemed to work so well.

    4 – 2 – 3 – 1

    it was quite an outstanding game and also we were without the services of Rvp ,eduardo and also arshavin then.

    Apart from the initial 10 -15 minutes of this game, man u initially dominated.. But arsenal settled and not only won the possesion game overalll but were far more convincing and threatening.

    The line-up was as follows ;-

    Almunia

    Sagna gallas silvestre Clichy

    Diaby Denilson

    Walcott Fabregas Nasri

    Bentnder

  7. Aussie Jack says:

    Sorry Desi….Misread your article you said ‘WE` not `HE` scored 36 goals….ageing eyes…sorry.

  8. Munala says:

    Bentner 4 a van persie ? !
    He aint anything of a striker,
    He lacks vision, touch above all skill.
    Nobody does it better than v.p wid his back 2 goal.

  9. Munala says:

    Desi, 2 receive thought u only subscribe once n receive posts thru email,pliz let me know.

    • desigunner says:

      You can subscribe to the RSS Feeds. It’s located on the right side below the Player Websites section. Once you click on that link it will give you the option of choosing your preferred application to subscribe.

      Let me know if it works.

  10. mu says:

    what do i have 2 do 2 get ua posts regularly via email ?

    • Gooner4Life says:

      When you post a comment, right next to the submit button there are two check boxes with options to notify comments and new posts. You can check the one for posts to get in email. Works for me.

  11. blag says:

    But do you think Bendtner will start ahed of Eduardo ones he is fit again this season? i think Ed has done some real good work up there, with some real clever assists. I know alot of people dont rate him as he does not score, but if you have watched the games he has played he has often been very involved in the final stages before we score. I feelt we missed Ed alot against Porto and think his vision would have changed the match…

    • desigunner says:

      I am not sure Eduardo will stay fit for all the games. Dudu would be my first choice if he is fit with Bendtner on the right.

  12. es says:

    Bendtner’s no RVP. He’s not aggressive enough, he’s not skilful enough, he hasn’t the instincts, and he’s not fast enough.

    RVP, when fit, is one of the best strikers in the world … capable of fashioning unlikely goals in difficult situations.

    Until he gets back our goals will come from no single player unlike at Chelsea or MU. Now if Drogba or Rooney were to get injured then doors would be opened big time.

  13. Personally, as far as I am concern, Bendtner, cannot do VPS. Bendtner, has the structure of a striker, the hight and his cute too but he still has a lot to learn to be a top striker, a finisher. He can do it, if he works had. Advice number 1-Bendtner has to be fearless and a fighter like Roony. Advice number 2-He has to work on his skills such as dribbling. Advice 3-Bendtner doesn’t has to be shy to emulate other top striker in the world. He can do it, if he wants to. GOD BLESS ARSENAL.

  14. mario indian gooner says:

    no chance bro….rvp is a class apart u cant expect bendy to do a rvp….rvp is all that bendy isnt….and besides rvp is world class

  15. Aniruddh says:

    i still remember when Van Persie used to play when he had just joined us and I feel he wasn’t as good as Bendner is at the moment, bendtner can lead the line with good control and also finish well only because hes been out for a long time we haven’t seen what he can do. Just give the boy some breathing space he’s just 21

  16. bobbygee says:

    Play to a players strengths and minimize his weakness is the key. lets hope he continues to develop. Lets hope Bendtner develops into a top notch striker. RVP and Bendtner would be a killer. http://defutebol.net

  17. Hong_gunner says:

    Im mesmerised why as some people who posted in present and past, are so fond of changing the formation and line-up on a weekly basis. The current 4-3-3 system(though i dont like to name systems, i’d rather call it a attack-based line-up that tends to move the ball around in front of the D-area and open up defences that park the bus with our incisive play. And im sure, Wenger would have loved Bendtner’s tap-in for the first goal against Sunderland as much as i did. Bendtner has played the lone-man for Denmark and i’ve seen him with a few tap ins plus some amazing goals to help take them to the world cup. And Eboue has given wenger a message for the training ground. Squeeze in the crosses into decisive areas and im sure Wenger too admired Bendtner’s positioning on numerous ocassions. Yes, i know tight defences will try to make Bendtner play with his back towards the post, but thats where the likes of Arshavins and Fabregas’ will come into play and we’ll have to win games as a team. We’re in perfect shape!

  18. 8 inch knob says:

    The boy will come good. He is our ray of hope to end the season on a flourish. Lets all get behind him and the team to give them that little bit of extra courage that they need to battle on.

    Anyhow onto more pressing matters, the team for Stoke. I would like to see:

    …………………Mannone…………………….
    ……………………………………………..
    …………….Gallas…..Vermaelen……………..
    ……………………………………………..
    …………………..Song………………………
    ……..Eboue……………………..Traore……..
    …………………Denilson……………………
    ……………………………………………..
    …………………Fabregas……………………
    ……………Rosicky…….Nasri……………….
    ……………………………………………..
    …………………Bendtner……………………

    Subs:
    Almunia
    Silvestre
    Sagna
    Clichy
    Ramsey
    Walcott
    Vela

    or maybe:

    …………………Mannone…………………….
    ……………………………………………..
    …………….Gallas…..Vermaelen……………..
    ……………………………………………..
    …………………..Song………………………
    ……..Sagna…………………….Clichy……..
    …………………Fabregas……………………
    ……………………………………………..
    ………..Eboue…..Bendtner……Vela…………..
    ……………………………………………..
    ………………….Eduardo……………………

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