Any doubt that a young Martin Odegaard could take responsibility for the captain’s armband for Arsenal have been wiped out in half a season after he guided them to the top of the premier league seven points ahead.
Odegaard, who turned 24 last month, has been Arsenal’s most influential player this season, oozing confidence in midfield and fueling the club’s first real title challenge in years.
He tops the club’s goalscoring charts with seven league goals and five assists, eclipsing his tally from last campaign in just 15 games.
He was front and center again on Saturday as Arsenal extended their lead over defending champions Manchester City with a 4-2 win at Brighton & Hove Albion to end 2022 on a high and underline their title credentials.
The Norwegian scored Arsenal’s second goal, but he impressed even more with a breathtaking assist from his own half for the fourth goal: a first through pass that opened up the defense and placed Gabriel Martinelli on his way.
“Martin Odegaard knows what he’s doing before that ball comes in… A lot of people don’t see that pass, he’s probably the only player on the pitch who sees that,” said Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson.
“(from the city) Kevin De Bruyne sees it, Odegaard sees it. But I don’t think any other Premier League player sees him opening up.”
Having initially signed the midfielder on loan from Real Madrid, the 35 million euros ($37.46 million) Arsenal paid to make his transfer permanent now seems like a steal.
The fee was cheaper than the 42.5 million pounds ($51.40 million) Arsenal paid in 2013 to sign Mesut Ozil from the Spanish club – the same team where Odegaard hardly had the opportunity to play. settle down.
Mikel Arteta’s side have lacked a proper playmaker since Ozil’s acrimonious exit, but Odegaard gives the north London club more than just a creative outlet in midfield with a keen eye for a pass .
The Norway international doesn’t hesitate to go deep to help the defence, whether that’s providing an escape under pressure from the opposition press or getting his socks dirty while winning the ball back.
“He does what we want him to do, decide football games and work very hard and provide the team with what they need every moment of every game, which is different,” Arteta said.
Odegaard’s transformation has drawn parallels with former club captain Cesc Fabregas, who was tasked with leading the team at the age of 21 by the ex-coach Arsène Wenger.
“I was desperate to sign him (when he was 15), luckily he’s here now. He’s really like a young Cesc Fabregas,” Wenger told TV2.
“He has become a complete player. He is a very calm player who analyzes the game well. His feet are firmly planted on the ground.”
Arsenal were looking to appoint a full-time captain after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was stripped of the armband for a disciplinary foul last season.
And Arteta had no qualms about handing the responsibility to Odegaard despite the presence of more senior players.
“He represented the values ​​of this football club, of the team… in the best possible way,” Arteta said. “He is also the captain of his national team and I think it was the right choice.”


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