Arsenal forward Marouane Chamakh has stirred up some controversy after being photographed smoking, or rather holding, a shisha pipe with QPR’s Adel Taarabt after the Gunners 2-1 defeat at Loftus Road on Saturday. Chamakh and Taarabt, both of Morocco, were shown with pipes in the published photo which has supposedly infuriated Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.
They weren’t doing anything illegal, but it’s believed that smoking a shisha pipe is equal to smoking dozens of cigarettes and Wenger feels his players shouldn’t smoke. The timing couldn’t have been worse though since the loss came against one of the English Premier League’s lesser lights and Taarabt managed to score his first goal for QPR.
A lot of supporters and experts feel the photo might be the last nail in the coffin for Chamakh and he’ll be moved out of the Emirates in the summer. However, if he is to be moved it’s likely going to be based on his hazy performances on the pitch not those off of it. He got off to a pretty good start at Arsenal when he first arrived in 2010 on a free transfer from French club Bordeaux, but hasn’t done much for the club since, with just one goal so far this season.
QPR manager Mark Hughes is also reportedly upset with Taarabt over the photo and intends to speak with him. It’s not clear though if either of the players broke their respective club’s rules. But even though he’s angered Wenger, Chamakh said he doesn’t think he’ll be going anywhere in the summer and intends on staying with Arsenal. That might not be his decision to make though.
The Morocco international Chamakh told Onze, a noted French magazine, that he’s spoken to Wenger and he believes he’ll be given a chance to earn his spot next season. He said he left France to improve as a player and wants his agents to turn down any bids for him and stay in London.
He’s played in only 17 games this campaign though and his lone goal came in the 4-3 loss at Blackburn early on in the season. He hasn’t seen much playing time since skipper Robin van Persie has been in excellent form with 26 league goals so far and Wenger usually uses just one striker.
Another Gunner who wants to stay, or at least return to Arsenal appears to be 24-year-old Danish international Nicklas Bendtner, who’s out on loan with Sunderland. Bendtner announced last year that he’d never return to Arsenal, but if the reports are true his attitude has changed 180 degrees. Bendtner has been scoring a few goals lately, with four in seven matches in March, and now that his confidence is sky high he’d like to return to the Emirates.
Bendtner’s loan deal expires in May and from the sounds of it, Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill doesn’t seem overenthusiastic on keeping him at the Stadium of Light. O’Neill said he hasn’t really given it any thought when he was asked if he’d like to keep the striker who has formed a pretty good partnership with Stephane Sessegnon.
O’Neill stated that he hasn’t thought about Bendtner’s situation at all and therefore hasn’t spoken to the player about his immediate future. He did praise him though by saying Bendtner has been playing like an old-fashioned centre forward by holding up the ball and bringing his teammates into the play. O’Neill thinks Bendtner’s recent good luck has him feeling he can crack the Arsenal lineup and if he returns he may be able to play in the Champions League once again.
Even though he’s likely to leave Sunderland at the end of the current season, it’s unclear if Wenger wants him back at Arsenal especially if Chamakh stays, Van Persie re-signs, and Lukas Podolski shows up. Bendtner would have to keep his impressive performances up until the end of the season to impress Wenger, but if Champions League football isn’t in the cards, van Persie’s status will be up in the air and the Dane could make a return to the Emirates.