Arsenal midfielder shows why he can help to lead Mikel Arteta’s revival in Tottenham win
Mikel Arteta hails Arsenal fans ahead of north London derby
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Martin Odegaard continues to prove why he can be the key to the long-term future of Arsenal with another impressive performance during the 3-1 win against Tottenham in the north London derby. The Norwegian once again showed his class as Arsenal eased past Spurs and moved above them in the Premier League table.
Emile Smith-Rowe opened the scoring for Arsenal after just 12 minutes, before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and then Bukayo Saka, extended the Gunners lead before half-time.
Son Heung-min pulled a goal back for Nuno Espirito Santo’s side just over ten minutes from time but it was too little too late for Tottenham, who slumped to their third Premier League defeat in a row.
Odegaard inspired Arsenal to victory against Burnley last weekend – with a spectacular free kick which proved to be the difference between the two sides – and the Norwegian was looking to do the same against Spurs.
And Odegaard did just that when his latest performance demonstrated why Arsenal were right to shell out the £30million required to acquire his services from Real Madrid this summer.
Odegaard commanded the midfield and was particularly influential in the build-up to the first goal when he ran at the Spurs defence, before playing the crucial pass to Bukayo Saka – who then fed Smith-Rowe.
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The 22-year-old’s time at Real Madrid was characterised by limited first-team opportunities and countless loan spells, but that’s all behind him now as he begins a new life in north London.
And unlike at Real Madrid – where there is a constant pressure to succeed and limited time to do so – Odegaard will have the time he needs to showcase his abilities at the Emirates and continue to grow as a player.
And Arteta heaped praise on the midfielder following his excellent display at Burnley last weekend.
“I think we are building some leadership in the group,” Arteta said. “It’s a really young group, with a lot of players under 23.
“Martin is the captain of the national team and Sambi was the captain at Anderlecht.
“Martin has this capacity to do that with his talent, taking the ball in moments where others probably refuse to, but as well with his attitude, his rhythm and the way he presses and puts people under pressure.”
While Odegaard offers a dangerous attacking threat going forward, the Norwegian has proved there is more to his game than his ability in the final third.
“[Odegaard] is probably the first to do it [those defensive responsibilities],” said Arteta. “I was really impressed with Auba as well – I think his rhythm and high pressing was fantastic.
“It was a real commitment and purpose because you can go to try and win the ball or put pressure [on] – but you can tell when you are really doing it or when you’ve been told to do it.
“There was a big meaning behind it and when you go to places like that, when you are having difficult moments and you want to start to get results, I think you have to go to those basics and have every single player do that, even the ones that came on – I think they were superb, lifted the momentum of the team and took us to a different level. I think that’s really important.”
Many would have expected Odegaard to be further along in his development given he burst onto the scene at Stromsgodset aged 15 – and was sold to Real Madrid at 16 – but at 22, the Norwegian still has his whole career ahead of him.
Goals have been in short supply for Arsenal this season, but the introduction of Odegaard into the team has already helped change that.
One of the few criticisms of Odegaard has been the few goals he has scored while at the club, but that’s something which is sure to improve if he continues in this vein of form.
It’s clear Arteta’s long-term plan is to build for the future and Odegaard can be the shining light for the Gunners in the years to come.
Arsenal will be looking to keep their fine run of form going when they travel to Brighton in the Premier League next weekend.
Arteta’s side will then play host to Patrick Viera’s Crystal Palace at the Emirates following the international break on October 18.
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