Throughout his career Nicklas Bendtner has been seen as a footballing caricature, attributed to his desire for wealth and casual nature on the pitch, but against Hull on Wednesday, he once again looked worthy to be part of his chosen profession.
After three and a half years without a league goal at the Emirates, the much-maligned Bendtner’s third contribution of the game was to head home a Carl Jenkinson cross with just 93 seconds on the clock.
The Dane looked more energetic in the opening 60 seconds than he had in the last four seasons, completing neat passes with team-mates, before showing the kind of movement and awareness in the box to find sufficient space to get on the end of the full-back’s centre.
At 25, Bendtner should have achieved more in his career by now, having been one of Arsene Wenger’s golden youngsters, enjoying a successful loan spell at Birmingham way back in 2006/07.
His scoring record at international level would make many a striker jealous, netting 24 times in 56 appearances for Denmark, but the only club scene he has ever made an impression on is situated in West London.
Sanity was restored in the 18th minute against, when the lanky ex-Juventus man failed to control the ball two yards out with no one in his way to stop his second strike of the game.
In his previous outings this season, Bendtner has looked completely disinterested in performing to the upper limits of his ability, choosing to mope around the pitch instead, something Arsene Wenger acknowledged at the end of the game.
Bendtner's recent claims that he envisaged himself playing for the likes of Real Madrid or Barcelona, sounded more like the words of a man who sits on Football Manager during his hours away from training. His comments rightly found him mocked by all those who read them, as he never managed to command a regular first-team spot with any top-flight club.
Attitude-related issues have always been the downfall of the man, causing him to reach new lows of unpopularity with fans, who would have happily seen him join fellow Arsenal flop Marouane Chamakh at Selhurst Park in the summer, but the Dane was saved by Wenger for the simple reason that he had no other striker to provide back-up to Olivier Giroud.
Bendtner got overexcited as half-time approached, bursting down the right, and crossing the ball into Mesut Ozil, but the diminutive German was unable to meet the ball with a convincing header. He almost claimed his second, but his leaping effort from a Santi Cazorla corner was neatly headed off the line in the 60th minute.
A certain willingless to find the ball also crept into Bendtner’s game against the lacklustre Tigers, with him eager to move around the final third to obtain possession, rather than meekly wait for his more talented colleagues behind him to find the right pass.
The constant exchanges of the in-form trio of Ozil, Aaron Ramsey and Santi Cazorla made life a lot easier for the Dane, whose movement assisted the playmakers throughout the evening.
In the 73rd minute the Great Dane departed the pitch to a standing ovation, not something one expected to see when his name was read out at the start of the game, most Arsenal fans raised a smile when the PA announcer declared that Bendtner would be playing.
In his post-match press conference, Wenger spoke positively about the man he has nurtured since he was a teenager with the Gunners.
“His last performance was not convincing against Chelsea, but he’s worked well in training, and deserved his chance,” Wenger explained.
“He has good technical quality and quite good pace. We had him as a boy of 15, 16, and I made him sign a long contract twice, I’ve believed in his qualities.”
Bendtner’s contribution to the game could not be described as a re-birth of a competent striker, but Wenger will be reassured that he has another forward on the books who can do the business as Arsenal challenge for the Premier League title, an oversight which has cost them in the past.
The test for Bendtner now is take his positive performance into his next time on the pitch, which will almost certainly be from the bench, something that will affect the ego of the man, but for once he’ll have to rise above to show that he can be the striker he claims to be.