Arsenal striker ruled out for several weeks with ankle injury
- Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images
Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner faces “weeks” on the sidelines after he twisted an ankle while celebrating his late goal against Cardiff on New Year’s Day.
Bendtner, who came on as a second-half substitute for Lukas Podolski, finally broke the deadlock at Emirates Stadium with an 88th-minute goal after Cardiff had looked set to prevent the Gunners’ return to the top of the table.
But the Denmark international – who has forced his way back into the first-team picture after two years in the wilderness – landed awkwardly in the aftermath of the goal and had to be replaced by Thomas Vermaelen.
Theo Walcott wrapped up the Gunners’ win with a second goal in added time and manager Arsene Wenger admitted: “It looked like the goal was coming in the last 25 minutes – but sometimes it doesn’t.
“In the end Nicklas gave us great relief. He’s a player who has come through a difficult period, so I want to give him credit.
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“I told him that already he’s back to the level where I want him to be. Unfortunately he got injured and it looks like it’s not a question of days, but weeks and I’m very sad about that.
“Usually he’s not a fragile player, but he landed on foot of a Cardiff player and turned his ankle.”
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Podolski, starting for the first time since he suffered a hamstring injury in August, struggled to make any headway against a Cardiff defence that was led superbly by Steven Caulker and Ben Turner.
Although both Jack Wilshere and Per Mertescaker struck the woodwork in the second half, it looked as if the Bluebirds would hold on for a point until Bendtner struck, rifling in the rebound after Bacary Sagna’s header was saved.
Wenger added: “Podolski has not played for four months and he lacked a little of that sharpness. It was not easy for him because Cardiff were very well organised and worked hard.
“Cardiff are certainly physically the fittest team in the league. But we had a slow start and we gave them too much comfort in possession.”
Arsenal’s first-choice centre-forward Olivier Giroud is still struggling to shake off an ankle injury, which means Podolski is likely to start up front in their FA Cup third-round tie against Tottenham on Saturday.