Arsene Wenger has backed Nicklas Bendtner to shine at Nottingham Forest, claiming the former Arsenal striker can return to the top level.
Bendtner made his full debut for Forest as they slumped to a 4-0 defeat to Arsenal at The City Ground on Tuesday in the third round of the EFL Cup – goals from Granit Xhaka and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, wedged either side of Lucas Perez’s double, ensuring progression for Wenger’s side.
And though the Denmark forward failed to get on the scoresheet against his former employers, Wenger believes that the former Wolfsburg and Juventus man’s performance showed that he can still fulfill his potential.
“He [Bendtner] tried like mad to make life difficult for us,” Wenger said. “Nottingham [Forest] are a good team and they gave everything tonight.
“I think that if Nicklas is fit, determined and combative, and he was tonight, then that’s what you want from him.
“He’s only 28, so if he can stay fit he can come back to the top level. A hungry Bendtner can score goals against anybody.
“He’s intelligent and he’s honest. He knows that he has made some mistakes in his career but he has got the quality to get the career his talent deserves.”
Wenger was also quick to praise the goalscoring impact that Xhaka – who has now netted twice in as many matches – has had on Arsenal’s midfield, as well as lauding the performance of two-goal Perez.
“It was a tough game, our technical superiority made the difference,” Wenger added. “We played with a good team dynamic and that’s the way we wanted to play.
“It was tricky. I believe that the result shows a comfortable win but we had a difficult game and played like a real team.
“I was really pleased with Perez’s effort. That’s what I expect of him and I know that he has the quality.
“I honestly didn’t know that Xhaka had that in his locker. But it’s great for his confidence. The demands from our supporters are very high so I hope they see that they are both very good players.”