Previous names: Dial Square, Royal Arsenal, Woolwich Arsenal

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Nicklas Bendtner could be the new Ray Kennedy: propelling Arsenal to the title

By 1970’s Gooner

I remember when I first started going to Highbury as a young lad. It was the time when all the local and national newspapers were mentioning Arsenal only in terms of its past glories. Of not having won anything for 17 years.

17 years I thought was a very, very long time. Still I had already chosen which team in north London I was going to bestow my allegiance to. This was the team in the area where I lived, the team all my friends and family supported and I did after all believe that with a strange name like Arsenal I couldn’t go wrong!

Strange because no other team in the League had a name that was not derived from the name of the town or area it came from nor a nickname that meant its players could gun down the opposition at will!

So I vowed that it wouldn’t matter if they went for another 17 years without winning anything.

But Bertie Mee’s Arsenal managed to get into the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, today’s equivalent of the UEFA Cup.

It was at this time that Bertie Mee started bringing into the team some younger players to replace a few of the old hands that had their day. Ray Kennedy was one of them. He made his first team debut against Glentoran in the 1969-70 version of the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup.

In fact to my great surprise and of course satisfaction Arsenal progressed to the competition's final and the young Kennedy had a starring role. He came on as a substitute during the first leg while Arsenal were losing 3-0 to Anderlecht away and scored a crucial late goal.

Arsenal had to win 3-0 at Highbury to win overall which they did. It was their first trophy after 17 years. And I was there to see it.

What really impressed me was this strong and tall young lad that had burst onto the first team and played as though he had been around for years.

And what was even more satisfying was that we got him for nothing! He was released by Sir Stanley Mathews from Port Vale when he was 16 and he was working in a sweet factory playing amateur football!

Most of all I was impressed with his ability to receive a pass either to feet or in the air and even if surrounded by opponents clicking at his heels and trying to push him off balance he would still manage to protect the ball until his fellow players were ready to receive his lay off.

I watched Nicklas Bendtner for the first time at a televised Carling Cup game at Doncaster Rovers two years ago when Wenger fielded a B side which included among others Almunia in goal, Senderos at centre back and Robin Van Persie in attack. Bendtner came on for RVP in the 33rd minute (Almunia saved two penalties in the ensuing penalty shoot out).

His physique and style of play straight away reminded me of Ray Kennedy. Opposition defenders found it difficult to cope with his strength and aerial ability which was also strangely combined with a touch of skill and finesse.

I made a point of watching him play for Denmark and in a few of Birmingham’s games last season and he was clearly a handful for most defenders. He carried that form and style of play into this season for Arsenal. He was quite impressive in the pre season tournaments where he showed that he could rough it with the seasoned pros of the foreign leagues and also score goals.

I even argued on this site that he should be a realistic contender for inclusion in the first team “Bendtner makes a case for starting against Fulham” and “Bendtner should start every game. It makes more tactical sense”.

He has been used sparingly by Arsene Wenger mostly in the Carling Cup and a few Champion’s League games scoring against Newcastle, Slavia Prague, Steaua Bucharest and of course that marvelous header against Tottenham.

In fact Ray Kennedy scored a famous goal for Arsenal against Spurs.

During Ray Kennedy’s first season as a first team player (1970-71) he only missed one game in all competitions. He was an integral part of the Arsenal side which became only the second in the 20th century to win the coveted Double of League Championship and FA Cup (Spurs was the other one).

A tight, dramatic finale to the title race saw Kennedy score the only goal of the game against Tottenham at White Hart Lane from a cross by another of my 1970’s favourites, George Armstrong, to secure the title for Arsenal, our first since 1952-53. I was there too “banking” off school early to make sure I got into the ground.

Three days later, Arsenal beat Liverpool 2-1 after extra time to win the FA Cup. Kennedy didn't score in the final (Charlie George and Eddie Kelly did) but did end the season with 27 goals, making him the club's top scorer.

Nicklas Bendtner has shown that Arsene Wenger can rely on him. If given the chance he could help propel Arsenal to the title just like a young Ray Kennedy did when, with the rest of the Arsenal 1970’s greats, went on to make history.

From me and the other contributors to “Arsenal Analysis” we thank you for your support and participation and wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

May all your wishes come true.

Fabregas has added a “Peter Storey” attitude to his vast arsenal of talents

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Anonymous said...

Bendtner should start every game that either Van Persie or Adebayor is injkured and even some that they are not.

Anonymous said...

Bendtner is pure class, there is no doubt about that.

BUT, for now he will have to wait for his chance on the bench. Wenger cannot afford to replace Adebayor if fit. First - he has added a whole new dimension to the way we play our game. Second - He is the league's top scorer!

Benching him now is definitely wrong. VanPersie is better than Bendtner for nor now, and therefore should and would start ahead of him now. If he is injured, which he usually is, then both Bendtner and Eduardo are fighting for the place in the team.

Bendtner hopefully has many many years to come as an Arsenal player, no need to rush things and shake the balance.

Wrighty7 said...

First off Merry Xmas to everyone at Arsenal Analysis and all the Gooners in the world! Good article 1970's, as I've just turned 25, Ray Kennedy is out of my era! But my Dad informs me he was a good player and if he was like Bendtner then he must have been! I think Bendtner is going to be some player, and is knocking on the 1st team door. If he is patient, takes Wenger's advice, he'll be mustard!

Mark said...

Bendtner and Adebayor cannot start together. They have too much in common as strikers. And I would prefer Adebayor to Bendtner for the next few months -- the Dane still has a lot to prove. The important thing with strikers is the partnership and I think it would be better to avoid fiddling with the Ade and RVP combination.

Of course, he did climb 12 stories to get that magnificent goal, but I think we're forgetting that he came on just seconds earlier. The Spuds defence had no plan for him at that time, and his marker ran straight into Kolo Toure, which gave him the free header.

However, he has shown some cool finishing ability (vs. Steaua) and there's definitely potential for a first team regular. But maybe not just yet.

@q: Sadly, Ronaldo has overtaken Ade in the EPL goals tally.

Anonymous said...

Merry ChanukahEidXmas, first of all.

Very good article 1970's gooner, very nice indeed.

Mark is incorrect. Ade and Bendtner can play well together when necessary.

Bendtner could come on regularly as a sub more often (for either RvP or Ade) and be very effective.

But if Wenger had started two up front last Saturday with Bendtner as one of those, we would not have had such a close match.

T said...

Very good read and Merry Christmas to all Gunners worldwide. Ray Kennedy was a player before my time so its illuminating to hear how he played and that Nicklas is comparable to him.

I remember reading Tony Cascarino (not something I intended to do!) say at the start of the season that the Spurs front line is the best in the Premier League. At the time I thought he was way off the mark - and with Nicklas demonstrating his promise among other forward options like ice-cool-finisher Eddie, the superb RVP and the immense Ade surely he'd have to reconsider. With Theo and Vela also waiting in the wings the forward options for Arsenal is looking exceptional in the short, medium and long-term.

Anonymous said...

I agree with T we have the most exciting forwards in the League and with Vela to come the future is very bright indeed

Anonymous said...

Ah memories; I was also at that Anderlecht game when we won the Fairs Cup which for today's kiddies was the equivalent of the UEFA Cup. Great night
I also tried to get to the Spurs match, but as I was working by then couldn't get there as early as you. The roads were blocked and at a standstill for a mile around the ground so I did not have a chance of getting in and thousands of us Gunners were distraught but that was compensated by the result.
I'm not sure Bendtner can be compared to Ray Kennedy who was much stronger and physical. However Bendtner possesses far more in the way or ball skills and promises to be superstar.
My main worry is where he can fit in with the present set-up especially when RVP is fit. I hope he doesn't get too frustrated at the lack of opportunities and leaves, as that would be a disaster for us all including him.

Arsenal Analysis said...

I was there from 3.00 pm to make sure I got in. A truly memorable night indeed!

Unknown said...

yes..bendtner totally will become what did u expected. i think he should play more regular in the starting eleven. maybe he can replace adebayor now.

Anonymous said...

I think Bendtner is such a deadly force. I know he can bench any of the other strikers.I and my friend take sides btn Nik and ade. Am 4 Nik. I know Nik tends to slow down at times in the game but he's very sharp-Like Michael Owen. Most of his goals seem to come from nothing-that's what i like. Am 5 7" so i think he jumped over my head to grab the winner against tottenham. That is serious. he should stay and feature more. I also think he should listen to wenger and know he's got big fans already like me. Nik keep up!! If he's to come on for the next 2 seasons, fine but i expect him to be a part of the songs the fans sing very soon. post to for any comments

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