Mikel Arteta has suggested that, unlikely as it may seem, Nicklas Bendtner could yet play a part in Arsenal's title challenge.
Bendtner marked his first Premier League appearance in an Arsenal starting XI since March 2011 with his first goal for the club in three years as Arsène Wenger's side beat Hull 2-0 at home on Wednesday night.
"He deserves it," said Arteta. "He has been working really hard. He joined us in pre-season and was rewarded today. He got the chance and got a very good goal."
Wenger's Spanish midfielder knows that successful rotation will be integral to a sustained challenged at the top of the table and was duly delighted to see Bendtner – previously expected to be loaned out once again this season – make such an impact on his return.
"The good thing is we can still rotate the squad and keep winning," said Arteta. "The squad players can contribute and help the team be successful. Every member of the squad is important and Nicklas is no different. He is an Arsenal player and while he is here, he is 100% here. I don't think he will be thinking of doing anything different because he likes playing here.
"I think it (the competition for places) is great. Everybody has to be on their toes and everybody feels important. You are going to need everyone if you are going to achieve something. The Christmas period is going to be massively important but with the quality, the ambition and the togetherness that we have I think we are in a good position."
A decent litmus test of Arsenal's progress and potential will come on Sunday when Roberto Martínez's renascent, fifth- placed Everton visit the Emirates fresh from beating Manchester United 1-0 at Old Trafford.
"They're having a great season," said Arteta, a former Everton midfielder under David Moyes. "They've got some great results against the top teams which isn't easy. We are going to face a very difficult team for sure. I think Everton deserve to be up there and beating United is going to be massively important for them, it is going to boost their confidence.
"I know Roberto Martínez well and he is the type of manager that wants to take risks and make his players play good football so hopefully we can watch a nice game on Sunday."