Premier League • England

Arsenal man makes pundits gush with Arteta told what would be a huge mistake

Alexandre Lacazette, Martin Odegaard, Cedric Soares Arsenal v Leicester March 2022

Martin Odegaard has drawn universal acclaim from a trio of pundits with one telling Mikel Arteta what he must not do if Arsenal are to make top four.

The Norwegian playmaker, 23, impressed enough on loan from Real Madrid last season to earn a permanent move in the summer. Odegaard set Arsenal back an initial €35m, though his stellar showings this season would already suggest that was money well spent.

Indeed, Odegaard played a starring role in Arsenal’s 2-0 victory over Leicester on Sunday. While he did not provide a goal or assist, his underlying stats proved just how effective he has become in the Premier League.

Odegaard made six key passes and created five chances for his teammates against the Foxes. Leicester’s defence was pulled this way and that with the latest Arsenal victory another vital step towards securing Champions League football.

And in the Sky Sports studio post-match, praise for Odegaard was fulsome.

Via the Mirror, Micah Richards described the Norwegian as “excellent”. What’s more, he insisted manager Mikel Arteta simply must not drop or rotate Odegaard in the remaining matches.

Odegaard over Smith Rowe?

Taking that approach could ensure Emile Smith Rowe has to get used to life on the bench. The pair are competing for the No 10 role, but per Richards, that is the route Arteta must take given Odegaard’s form.

“He is an excellent player,” said Richards. “What I like about him so much is that he gets into areas that people struggle to make an impact.”

“When you are in tight areas where you have to manipulate the ball, he is so composed and arguably, is in the form of his life in this Arsenal shirt.

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“You can’t not play him with the form that he is currently in because he dictates the play.”

Fellow pundit Jamie Redknapp believes Odegaard’s rise to fame at Real Madrid as a precocious teenager may have hindered the attacker earlier in his career. However, now settled at the Emirates, Redknapp reckons Odegaard has found the “perfect” home.

Redknapp said: “He has had an interesting career because he broke on the scene at 15/16 made his debut, child star and everyone was talking about him.

“He probably joined Real Madrid a little too early and it didn’t work out for him as [Zinedine] Zidane was not a huge fan of him. He’s been out on loan a number of times, and everyone wondered what the next step was going to be for him.

“He ended up on loan at Arsenal and it has just been the perfect situation for him.

“It took a while for him to bed in but now you can see the ability and confidence he is showing on a weekly basis. He looks like a man who is loving his football now.”


Arsenal culture has brought out Odegaard’s best – Hasselbaink

Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink echoed many of Redknapp’s sentiments, and claimed the more forgiving culture at Arsenal compared to Real Madrid has borne fruit with Odegaard.

The Dutchman added: “Having that pressure as a 16-year-old, it was seen as a big thing moving to Real Madrid, and young players going to Real Madrid playing in the first-team, they do not get the room to make those mistakes.

“You do not get that at Real Madrid. He came to Arsenal last year, but he was put in the team and still was given the chance because they believe in him.

“And at the beginning of the season, he was not the player that he is now, but again, he was allowed to make mistakes and as a young player, those mistakes help you grow.”

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