Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has challenged Nicklas Bendtner to recover his best form and return to the first-team fold after the striker’s impressive display against West Brom on Wednesday.
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Bendtner, 25, made his first appearance for the Gunners in more than two years and set up a goal for Tomas Eisfeld as Wenger’s side drew 1-1 at The Hawthorns before winning on penalties in the Capital One Cup third round encounter.
The Denmark forward also successfully converted in the shootout and Wenger is convinced that Bendtner’s confidence has not taken too much of a blow following an unsuccessful loan spell at Juventus last season.
“Nicklas overall had a good game for a guy who has not played for so long,” Wenger said. “He did very well on his own up front for nearly two hours. He showed heart and he has quality to come back as well.
“I don’t question too much his confidence. For Bendtner the most important thing is to stay fit physically because he has the talent. I know him well. It’s important he is consistently present and works hard. He has top qualities.”
Arsenal goalscorer Eisfeld was on target for the club for the first time, while fellow youngsters Kristoffer Olsson and Chuba Akpom kept their cool to score in the shootout -- leaving Wenger delighted with their impact.
"I am very proud, we had many young players,” Wenger said. “They showed they are good players and can fight as well. I decided to go for young players on the penalties and they coped well with the pressure.”
Arsenal, who are currently top of the Premier League, will face Chelsea at Emirates Stadium in the Capital One Cup fourth round.