By Chris Harris
Arsène Wenger insists that Nicklas Bendtner has what it takes to be a "top-class player" for Arsenal.
The Danish striker made a significant contribution to the 1-0 victory over Roma in midweek, dropping left to accommodate Samir Nasri's central role and causing problems for the Giallorossi defence with his direct running. However, Bendtner was criticised after squandering two excellent chances to effectively kill off the tie.
Wenger would rather Bendtner had added to his season's tally of nine goals but, at his pre-match press conference on Friday, the Arsenal manager admitted that he would be more concerned if the Dane was not getting into the right positions to score.
"I feel he is doing well," said the Frenchman. "He is 20 years old, playing at the top level and creating chances. The problem at that level is if you don't create chances.
"He wants to work, he is becoming very professional. Before he was a little bit easy-going. He realises now what it takes to be a top-class player. He works very well and for me he has a bright future."
At 20, Bendtner has plenty of time to improve all aspects of his game, including his finishing. Even Thierry Henry lacked composure in front of goal when he arrived at Highbury at the age of 21 and Wenger expects Bendtner to be more clinical as he gains experience.
"I believe the most important thing when you miss a chance is to analyse why," said the Frenchman. "All the rest – just let people talk. OK you missed a chance, go home and try to see why you missed a chance. In Bendtner’s case his first touch was not right on the night for various reasons.
"He was not on the toes when he got the ball – that is the sort of thing he needs to analyse. He has the timing and the nous to be there but afterwards it’s a question of work.
"I have seen a lot of players who don’t score when they’re 20 but score when they’re 23."Copyright 2015 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 27 Feb 2009