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    Wenger's faith in Bendtner gets Baggies reward

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    riley_.freeman

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    Wenger's faith in Bendtner gets Baggies reward

    Post by riley_.freeman on Wed Mar 04 2009, 08:52

    Wenger's faith in Bendtner gets Baggies reward

    WEST BROMWICH, England ā€“ Arsene Wenger believes that Nicklas Bendtner is finally starting to prove his class after the striker inspired a 3-1 rout of West Bromwich Albion.

    The Dane has been subjected to stinging criticism from sections of the Arsenal support this season thanks to some lacklustre performances, but the travelling fans at the Hawthorns here on Tuesday were bellowing his name by the end of an evening where he pulled Albion's dreadful defence to pieces.

    Bendtner rattled in two first-half goals - one curled into the bottom corner and another crunched past Scott Carson from an acute angle - and was only denied the match-ball when his low shot struck the post in the second period.

    That took his season's tally to 11 and Wenger believes the young striker could now be running into form at the perfect time, with Arsenal's Champions League last 16 decider at AS Roma looming large next week.

    "He has shown he has the talent to be an Arsenal player and that he is on the right way to maturity," Gunners manager Wenger said.

    "I liked his presence, I liked his determined attitude and the way he took people on. That shows how much he has improved.

    "It's been difficult for Nicklas because, as an Arsenal player, you are always compared to the great players from the past. You have to accept that he is a 19-year-old who will get better with time."

    Wenger could barely hide his relief at Arsenal ending their recent barren run, which had seen them held to four consecutive goalless draws ahead of this trip to the West Midlands.

    However, he was also frustrated that the clinical finishing on display against Albion was not replicated in the smattering of draws which have punctuated his side's unbeaten league run, which now stands at 14 games.

    "We needed this," the Frenchman said. "It's a strange situation because we have created as many chances as tonight in many games in the recent run and just not taken them."

    Victory saw Arsenal move to within three points of Aston Villa in the race for fourth place and Champions League qualification.

    "We are on a long unbeaten run and I believe that if we had turned some of those draws into wins by taking our chances we could have been in the title race even now," Wenger said.

    "Now we have to focus on closing the gap on Villa and maybe another team and try to win our own games."

    Arsenal would be a shoo-in for the top four if they confronted sides as amenable as West Brom every week. The hosts were behind after three minutes when Bendtner cruised past Ryan Donk and curled into the bottom corner.

    While Chris Brunt fired in a free-kick equaliser moments later, Albion's hapless defenders ensured an upset was never likely.

    Kolo Toure capitalised on dreadful marking by Gianni Zuiverloon to head in a second goal, while shoddy play from Abdoulaye Meite allowed Bendtner the opportunity to notch a third.

    Tony Mowbray, Albion's principled manager, is running out of patience with his team, whose defensive failings mean they are unlikely to vacate the bottom of the table any time soon.

    "I let the team know my feelings, about where they are in their careers and a few have to start stepping up to the mark and doing what they're paid to do," said Mowbray.

    "We expected to be fighting for our lives so we're not shell-shocked by it. But conceding stupid goals like we are knocks the stuffing out of the quality players - the ones who get the ball and do something with it."

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