Nicklas Bendtner’s goal and performance for Arsenal against Hull on Wednesday has raised the question of whether Arsene Wenger will enter the transfer market for a striker in January after all. The much-maligned Dane started in the Premier League for the Gunners for the first time since March 2011 against Hull and promptly headed home inside two minutes.
Wenger spoke before the game about his options to back up Olivier Giroud not being as meager as many have suggested. Theo Walcott has recently returned from injury, while Lukas Podolski and Yaya Sanogo are due back in the coming weeks. And, on the back of his display on Wednesday, Wenger sounded happy to count on Bendtner for the rest of the season too, as long as he continues the show the right commitment.
"It was a good performance from Nicklas,” he said, according to Sky Sports. “He has come back and worked hard in training. I know he has the qualities to play for us and he showed that tonight.
"When he has that type of attitude and commitment it shows that he has the qualities. Much depends on his commitment and fitness. He has worked hard recently but when he is physically sharp he can compete with anybody."
There remain caveats to the new optimism over Arsenal’s striking situation, however. While undoubtedly talented, Bendtner’s attitude remains a concern and Wenger has conceded that the player is keen to leave the club. Talking after the Hull match, Wenger remained unwilling to make any categorical statements about Bendtner’s future at Arsenal.
“At the moment we are not as far as that. He has the stature, he has good technical quality, he has quite good pace,” he said, according to Arsenal’s official website. “Look, we had him as a boy of 15 or 16 and I made him sign a long contract twice so that means I always believed in his qualities.”
Meanwhile, Walcott and Podolski are both capable of playing through the middle, but neither have excelled there at the highest level and offer more from wide areas. Sanogo has bags of potential, but was playing in Ligue 2 last season and has spent most of his time at the Emirates on the treatment table.
In the past days Arsenal have been linked strongly with moves for Alexandre Pato and Alvaro Morata to boost his options up front in January. Reports in Brazil claimed that Arsenal had already had a bid rejected for Corinthians and Brazil front man Pato, while there have been suggestions that a loan move for Real Madrid youngster Morata was already agreed. Wenger, though, has denied both stories.
"No, there's no truth in that," he said before the Hull match, according to ESPN. "That's all I can say. I'm not in touch with them.”
And Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti confirmed that there was no way that Morata would be leaving in January.
"I say, some clubs are interested but the subject is closed," he said, reports Sky Sports. "Morata remains with us because we need a footballer like him at Real Madrid this season. Although he has not played many matches this season I have confidence in his work for the team."
According to the Daily Mirror, Arsenal remain interested in Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez. Yet, while the Mexico international may be tempted by a move in order to get more first-team action in a World Cup year, it is unlikely to be to the Emirates. United will be loathed to sell a player to one of their rivals, while Hernandez would likely still play second fiddle at Arsenal, behind Giroud.