Arsene Wenger admitted he gambled on Arsenal’s title chances by bringing Nicklas Bendtner in from the cold.
Bendtner rewarded Wenger’s faith with his first Premier League goal for Arsenal for three years to help keep them top of the table.
Mesut Ozil was also on target but the night belonged to Bendtner after Wenger rang the changes to save his big guns for the biggest week of their season.
When asked whether picking Bendtner was a gamble, Wenger said: “It is always with a guy who has not played for a long time.
“His last performance was not convincing against Chelsea but he worked hard in training and deserved his chance.
“We know when he has the mind of the game he has the qualities. I believe tonight he had a good game.
“He has good technical quality and he has quite good pace. We had him as a boy of 15,16 and I made him sign a long contract twice so it means that I always believed in his qualities.
“We had a good night because we had good control of the game, some great technical quality and kept a clean sheet. Overall it was a very convincing performance.”
It was a risk on Wenger’s part but the Arsenal manager did it because his team now face three games in six days which will go a long way to deciding their season.
They entertain Everton on Sunday, travel to Napoli next Wednesday still needing a result to qualify for the Champions League knockout stages, and then go to Manchester City for a Saturday lunchtime kick-off.
It means you can understand why Wenger gambled on Bendtner, leaving Olivier Giroud on the bench. He made four other changes and yet the Gunners were still far too strong for Hull.
Poor Tigers boss Steve Bruce watched in despair as his players, who looked weary from their heroic win over Liverpool on Sunday, cracked after just one minute and 36 seconds when Bendtner opened the scoring.
But Bruce admitted he feared the worst, having signed Bendtner twice on loan for Birmingham and Sunderland – and he confessed he thought about trying to sign him for Hull this summer.
Bruce said: “He has done really well for me, twice, did Nicklas. As a football player, for someone of the size of him and what he’s got, I hope sooner or later he knuckles down and makes a go of his career. He reminds us all of that, on nights like this.
“But the mentality of Nicklas is always the one that everybody questions. He’s a good centre forward: good, powerful strong in the air, good in the air and with his feet. He’s got everything if he wants it – but there’s always a but.
“We were having a look this summer, but the level of salary’s always going to be a problem for us. He’s a good boy and he’s always done well for me. It was Sod’s Law he would do that tonight. When did he last score? It was for me, was it?”
Bendtner’s previous Premier League goal was at Sunderland under Bruce and the Danish centre forward must have forgotten what it felt like.
But while some Arsenal fans were still taking their seats and getting over the shock of seeing Bendtner in the starting line-up, the forgotten man reminded everyone he is still there.
Aaron Ramsey sent Carl Jenkinson away down the right, the stand-in full back sent over a brilliant cross and Bendtner timed his run to perfection before stooping to head home.
Hull were left chasing shadows and, despite Arsenal putting out a second string, they overwhelmed the visitors and it looked as if it was going to be a long night for Hull.
Bruce, one of the good guys of the Premier League, was taunted on the touchline as one idiotic fan took banter too far and yet the Hull boss declined to report it to the police or stewards.
If that was not bad enough, Arsenal’s passing and movement tore Hull to shreds. Ramsey’s brilliant reverse pass set up Ozil and he steered the ball past keeper Allan McGregor with beautiful composure to make the result safe.
It was all too easy for Arsenal. It may even start convincing Match of the Day’s pundits.
Source : Mirror