Nicklas Bendtner has been a bit of an enigma over the past couple of years, undoubtedly blessed with wonderful footballing talent, but often showing worrying signs of being arrogant and not fitting in at a club where team spirit is so important.
In his loan spell at Birmingham, he rubbed a few people up the wrong way, we had the infamous Adebayor incident last season (which was blown out of proportion, in my opinion), the lack of him celebrating with teammates (which was more concerning as it hinted at a deeper problem), and the general air of nonchalance and arrogance that followed him around. He seemed detached from the rest of the players somehow.
Recently, that has all changed. His joining in with the goal celebrations might seem trivial, but it suggests a much tighter bond with the squad, and I don’t consider it a coincidence that at the same time, he is linking up far better in a footballing sense.
There was one moment against West Ham that displayed this perfectly – he and Adebayor played a double one-two, Ade ending up forcing a good save from Rob Green, chasing in the rebound and ending up tumbling off the pitch. The Bendtner of last season would probably not have combined with his fellow striker quite as well, and even if he had, he would’ve probably casually trotted away after the chance had gone. This time, he ran over to Adebayor, helped him up, tapped him on the back and carried on.
Now this might all seem very subtle, and perhaps meaningless, but everything about his demeanour has changed in the last six months. No longer does he seem arrogant, merely confident (in a good way), and he can now be the selfish striker he needs to be, as shown by his superb curling shot from a wide position when Walcott was calling for it in the middle, while also turning supplier when appropriate, as he did for the second goal.
It is almost as if he is now comfortable at the club for the first time, and that can only be a good thing going forward. A clear talent, the worries around him have usually been the nature of his character, but if he can continue to be as much of a team player as at present, he could really fulfill his enormous potential.