x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Crunch time has arrived, says Arsenal striker Bendtner

Nicklas Bendtner admits Arsenal are now facing a month of games which could make or break their season.

LONDON // Nicklas Bendtner admits Arsenal are now facing a month of games which could make or break their season.

The Gunners resume their Premier League title challenge at home to Everton tonight, aiming to keep within striking distance of Manchester United, the league leaders who are five points ahead.

While an action-packed January saw Arsene Wenger's men continue their interest in both the domestic knockout competitions, Sunday's 2-1 FA Cup fourth-round win over Huddersfield Town came at a cost when Samir Nasri, their influential midfielder, picked up a hamstring injury which is set to rule him out of the first leg of the Champions League showdown with Barcelona on February 16.

Just a few days after that mouthwatering European tie, Arsenal will travel to Leyton Orient looking to move into the last eight of the FA Cup before heading to Wembley for the Carling Cup final against Birmingham City.

"This next month is a bit of a decider," said the Denmark forward, who got on the scoresheet against Huddersfield. "Two cups will be decided and there are matches which will have a massive influence on the Premier League as well. February is a big month for us and at the end of it we will see where we are at. Hopefully it will all look fantastic."

First and foremost, though, the battle-weary Arsenal squad must recover quickly to take on an Everton side who have proved hard to beat away from home this season.

"It is always difficult to play again so quickly. We have played a lot of games, but we are sportsmen and this is what we have to do," Bendtner said. "We have to be up for the challenge and be ready."

Bendtner also maintains that Arsenal have developed a new-found resolve this season.

"People have said before that if we were not at our best games would end in draws," the 23-year-old said. "This season we have turned those question marks into victories, and that is what is making us stronger game by game."

Wenger feels Nasri's absence will be a "big blow". "Samir has been very important and scored some great goals," Bendtner added. "He can win games by himself, so obviously we will miss him - but someone else will have to step up and take his place."

Meanwhile, David Moyes, the Everton manager, believes Louis Saha can help push his side up the table now the French striker has rediscovered his scoring touch.

Saha, 32, made it three goals in four appearances when he netted the opener in Saturday's 1-1 draw against Chelsea in the FA Cup fourth round. "Goals change centre-forwards," Moyes said. "If they get some goals it makes them look better and everything they do feels much better.

"Louis scored a lot of goals at the start of last season. Let's hope he can score a lot of goals in the second half of this campaign."