If you had suggested at the start of the season that the returning and much-maligned Nicklas Bendtner could be in contention for an individual award voted for by the fans, you would probably have been tied up and whipped off to the nearest funny farm!
Okay, so one goal doesn’t make a season and perhaps doesn’t change the view of some detractors who still have their doubts, but you have to give Bendtner credit for the way he responded to being given his first Arsenal start in the league since March 2011.
When the Gunners’ line-up was read out before last night’s visit of Hull, there were plenty of murmurs of discontent amongst the Emirates faithful when they discovered Bendtner had been selected ahead of Olivier Giroud who started on the bench for the first time this season.
But the feelings of derision turned to delight within minutes of kick off when the man sent packing out on loan to Sunderland and Juventus for a couple of years, scored his first Arsenal goal since finding the net in the FA Cup against Leyton Orient two and a half years ago.
The pony-tailed assassin scored with a clinical header from a Carl Jenkinson cross within two minutes to justify, to some extent, Arsene Wenger’s decision to recall him from the wilderness and give him another shot at becoming a Premier League star.
Despite dispensing of his services for the last two years, Wenger still has faith in the not-so-great Dane and after his goalscoring return last night the Arsenal boss said: “I know he has the qualities to play for us and he has shown that tonight.
“In our job you have to be open-minded and not have a definite judgement of a person. Niklas has worked hard since he came back and, of course, he can play a part. When he is physically sharp, he can compete with anybody."
Also on target in the league leaders’ 2-0 win last night was the ever-impressive Mesut Ozil who continues to justify the club’s record investment in a player who has looked instantly at home at the Emirates where he is already a ‘key’ figure and popular character.
His goals have been an added bonus, but Wenger admires and respects him for much more than that. “When it comes to the key pass, he is the man,” enthuses the Arsenal boss. “It is about vision and delivering the perfect weight of pass. It’s no coincidence he has the most assists because he has both those qualities.”