Bendtner eyes Barca after Cup hat-trick
Nicklas Bendtner made his claim for a starting place against Barcelona next week with a hat-trick as Arsenal hammered Leyton Orient 5-0 in their FA Cup replay.
Bendtner and Marouane Chamakh are vying for the right to replace the injured Robin Van Persie in the big Champions League clash.
Both scored against Orient but Bendtner’s hat-trick may have given manager Arsene Wenger more to think about as his team quickly got over their Carling Cup final defeat to Birmingham.
“We have lost van Persie, of course, so for Bendtner and Chamakh to score is very important,” said Wenger as his team booked a quarter-final date away to Manchester United.
“It is very important that they have a level of confidence to be successful in the big games. You need your strikers to take any chances and Bendtner did that well.
“We also need Chamakh with the games in front of us. He had a great start to the season until the end of the November, early December when he looked a little bit burned out.
“Now he looks back to himself because even in training he looked a little bit tired. It’s good for him that he scored.”
England midfielder Frank Lampard has claimed Chelsea are back in the frame as EPL title contenders.
The Blues scored a controversial 2-1 Stamford Bridge win over league leaders Manchester United on Tuesday night.
Fourth placed Chelsea are now 12 points behind United, with a game in hand, and eight points behind second placed Arsenal.
“We don’t really care about anyone else, if we keep winning all our games, we’ll be in with a shout,” Lampard told the London Evening Standard.
“We usually put a run of wins together but we haven’t done it so far this season. It is something we need to do now to give us a chance.
“It was important to win a big match again and in the second-half against United there was a little of the old Chelsea in there. You could see the power, the commitment and the strength.
“We need to go on from here. We normally go on a late run at this time of the season and that is what we hope to do now.
“If we don’t get a result in our next game, against Blackpool, then this will mean nothing.”
Chelsea’s win also did Arsenal a favor as Arsene Wenger’s team keep the pressure on United as their most likely title rivals.
“Does this victory help Arsenal win the title?” asked Lampard. “Yes, but only if Arsenal keep winning and that’s not a given either.
“United have enough experience to know it is a marathon and there is a long way to go.”
Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson is in hot water with the FA over his remarks about the referee in television interviews at the end of the defeat at Chelsea on Tuesday night.
Fergie faces a touchline ban ahead of this weekend’s big EPL clash with Liverpool.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger wants to sign young winger Victor Vazquez from Barcelona, his Champions League opponents next week.
Manchester United are tracking Spanish striker Fernando Llorente at Atletico Bilbao.
Udinese striker Alexis Sanchez has attracted a bid of £25million from an unnamed English club.
Chelsea have been joined by AC and Inter Milan and Lyon in the chase for Brazilian youngster Paulo Ganso, currently at Santos.
Newcastle United have enquired about former Liverpool full-back John Arne Riise, currently at Roma.
Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas is confident he will be fit to face Barcelona next week after his hamstring injury.
Sunderland midfielder Bolo Zenden is out of the Premier League trip to Arsenal on Saturday.
Everton striker Yakubu will sign for Leicester on a permanent basis when his loan deal expires at the end of the season – but only if they are promoted to the Premier League.
Aston Villa boss Gerard Houllier has defended his decision to leave eight first team players out as a weakened side lost 3-0 to Manchester City in the FA Cup on Wednesday night.
German side Schalke have claimed Manchester United are keen on goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.
Udinese midfielder Kwadwo Asamoah’s agent claims his client is a target for Manchester City.
Sunderland boss Steve Bruce has dismissed suggestions that injured defender Michael Turner might not play again this season.