Why You'll Love Him
He is cocky. He seems to have a knack to score at important moments.
Why You'll Hate Him
He is cocky. He has the uncanny ability to miss chances.
Nicklas Bendtner seems to be a 6'4" mystery. Born in Copenhagen, Bendtner has all the physical attributes to be a devastating powerful center forward; he is tall, large, and possesses a decent header. Yet there is probably no player that has frustrated, whether it was warranted or not, Arsenal supporters as much as the Dane has, with the possible exception of Abou Diaby. Perhaps because of his size, or perhaps because his age does not stick out on a youthful Arsenal squad, the fact that he is only 22 years old has not stopped supporters from writing him off.
However, a run of fine form and a knack for scoring timely, massive goals towards the end of the 2009-10 season has changed many supporters' view of him, and next year could be a key if the big Dane can partner with Robin van Persie and Marouane Chamakh to terrorize Premier League defenses and if he can keep from coming out of nightclubs with his pants around his ankles.
Club Teams: Arsenal (2005-present)
National Team Debut: August 16, 2006 versus Poland
World Cup(s): None
Bendtner joined Arsenal as a youth player in 2004, went on loan to Birmingham, scoring 11 in 42 matches for them, and then he returned to North London. Upon his return, he initially failed to break into a strong Arsenal strike force. In 2007-08, he scored 5 goals in 27 league matches for Arsenal, including a game-winner against hated rivals Tottenham Hotspur a mere 25 seconds after coming on as a substitute. 2008-09 saw Bendtner put away 9 goals in 31 League matches, although his propensity to go missing for large stretches of matches frustrated many suppoters, perhaps unjustly for the 21-year old.
2009-10 began much as 08-09 had ended. Bendtner missed a run of matches due to a groin injury, but even after missing six good chances versus Burnley, he still managed to score 9 in 11 towards season's end, including a hat trick against Porto in the Champions League and a late late game-winner against Hull City. This goal helped him win Arsenal player of the month for March 2010, as voted for by the fans.
Bendtner has emerged as a key figure on the Danish national team. As one of the team's main strikers, Bendtner has scored 11 goals in 32 international matches over the past four years. His goals during the World Cup qualifiers were crucial to Denmark's qualification, as they finished top in their qualifying group, beating out Portugal. Indeed, it was against the Portuguese that Bendtner made his biggest impact, scoring the first goal to pull the Danes level in the 84th minute before they eventually went on to win 3-2 with two injury time matches in what was quite possibly the most exciting qualifier this season. The Danish fans voted that goal Danish Goal of the Year, and for his work, they named Bendtner Danish Player of the Year for 2009-10.
What To Look For
Bendtner, as noted, has great size and leaping ability, although unlike many forwards of his size, those are not his only traits. World Cup fans should watch Bendtner's feet, as he possesses quickness that belies his size. He still will struggle with his first touch, but when he gets that under control, he can become a real force in attack. Having a good first touch is key to the other aspect of Bendtner's game, his surprising passing ability. In this sense, viewers may see him act more as a target forward, winning the ball and distributing it to the wings or to attacking midfielders. Bendtner's bottomless well of confidence means that he will not pass up his share of attempts on goal, however, and viewers could see either some spectacular goals or some spectacular misses, depending on the day. All in all, the Dane, when at his best, is an exciting player who can make the fans rise out of their seats in anticipation, as they did when he scored the only Arsenal goal in a 4-1 loss to Barcelona at the Nou Camp this April. Whether he can repeat that type of electrifying run in South Africa remains to be seen.
Ted Harwood's owned electrifying run can be seen at The Short Fuse, SB Nation's new Arsenal FC blog. Ted will be contributing to SB Nation's coverage of the 2010 World Cup.
For more World Cup coverage, visit the Dirty Tackle blog from our partners at Yahoo!