Wenger backs striker Bendtner

Wenger backs striker BendtnerLondon - Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger on Wednesday called on fans to have patience with Nicklas Bendtner, after the Danish forward responded to criticism with two goals against West Bromwich Albion.

The striker has been booed at the Emirates Stadium recently, but scored Arsenal's first and third in a 3-1 victory that lifted them to within three points of Aston Villa in the fourth Champions League qualifying slot.

"It is difficult when you're a fan of Arsenal, you are always comparing the players with people from five, six or 10 years ago," Wenger told the club website.

"But you have to accept that a guy who is 19 or 20 years old will get better every three months.

"He has shown he has the talent to be an Arsenal player and he's on the right path to mature.

"I liked his presence, his determined attitude and I thought the way he took people on showed he has improved a lot."

Despite ending a run of four games without scoring, Wenger insisted his side had done nothing different at the Hawthorns.

"It is a strange situation because we have created the same amount of chances as we did (against West Brom) in many games but didn't win.

"We are on a long unbeaten run since the beginning of November and I still believe that if we had taken our chances in a few of the draws we could still be in the title race.

"Now, we want to focus on reducing the gap with Aston Villa and maybe other teams."

Aston Villa face Manchester City on Wednesday evening. (dpa)