After Arsenal somehow scrambled their way back to West Ham to earn an exciting 3-3 draw in Sunday’s London derby, there was one player in particular who received the most praise.
Martin Odegaard, who has established himself seamlessly since being loaned out by Real Madrid in January, delivered arguably his best performance to date in an Arsenal shirt, despite a disastrous opening 30 minutes or so from the entire team.
If there was one player who might have struggled if he was taken away at half time, it would have been Norway’s No. 10.
Martin Odegaard (right) was instrumental in Arsenal’s exciting comeback to West Ham on Sunday – tormenting West Ham in the future, while also producing the dirty work.
The Gunners – who seemed to be suffering from a European hangover – were 3-0 down at the London Stadium within 32 minutes, but as the first half progressed, Odegaard began to push his authority into the match.
Any attack that Arsenal were desperate to find their way back into the game went through Odegaard, and after they gained a glimmer of hope, the Norwegian took center stage.
Unlike their former No. 10 Mesut Özil, especially in the final stages of his Arsenal career, the 22-year-old took the game by the scruff, both in pressing and moving forward.
And after the final whistle, when asked if Odegaard was a ‘leader’ in the dressing room, Mikel Arteta was not shy about singing his praises – he replied, ‘Well, he shows that I think from the first week.
‘The way he steps on the field, he always wants the ball, the way he applies the pressure. He has been really influential.
‘I think we are all a bit surprised because he looks very shy and humble, but when he enters that field, he is a real character and loves to play football.
Unlike Mesut Ozil, Odegaard took the game by the scruff for the Gunners
‘I think he was very intelligent in the way he read the game, the way he influenced the game and again showed how much he wanted to win.
‘When everyone was shaking a little, he gave us that stability and that calm on the ball and created chance after chance.
‘I like talented and creative players who are always willing to take the ball and make it happen, that they are mobile and also work hard. He is one of them. ‘
Arteta summed up exactly what every Arsenal fan thought after a full-time job at London Stadium. It looks like they finally have a number 10 in the book, who is not only so elegant on the ball, but also willing to put in the hard meters.
Odegaard chased everything, using Arsenal’s press on West Ham and urging his teammates to push and put pressure on the opposition.
His pace of work was contagious on Sunday, and having your back to the wall is exactly what it takes – especially for an Arsenal team over the years that crumbles when the going gets tough.
Most importantly, he was temporarily called in to revive Arsenal’s stuttering attack after a scorching start to the Premier League campaign.
Odegaard was also central to Arsenal’s fortune against bitter rivals Tottenham on March 14
And on Sunday, Norway’s new captain was central to everything. During the captivating collision, he constantly demanded the ball, and his clever movement tormented West Ham.
Odegaard constantly found that space behind the Hammers’ midfield and all three of Arsenal’s goals came through the Norwegian.
For the Arsenal opener, Odegaard drifted to the right before picking up the ball and putting it in the path of Calum Chambers, who then shot it at Alexandre Lacazette.
Arsenal’s second-place finish again followed a similar theme, but this was perhaps the goal Odegaard had the most impact on.
Once again the Norwegian received the ball just outside West Ham’s penalty area after driving past the Hammers’ midfield in the empty space, before producing another nice weighted pass in the path of Chambers, whose cross of Craig Dawson deflected in the back. just.
And Arsenal’s third was a copy of their first two goals. Odegaard turned on the edge of the West Ham box before putting Nicolas Pepe over the right side, which produced a brilliant cross for Lacazette to go home.
It was Odegaard’s willingness to always stay on the ball, and his spatial awareness that propelled Arsenal forward and accelerated.
Without him on the field, Arsenal in all likelihood wouldn’t have dragged themselves off the canvas to save a point.
Mikel Arteta screamed for that magic and is desperate for him at Real Madrid
After a period of getting used to in North London, the Real Madrid mercenary has taken off quickly and is a perfect fit for Arsenal’s midfield.
For many loan players, they find it difficult to settle for the knowledge that their future is in the air. But not Odegaard.
The left-footed star has shown that he has an all-round play that could affect the future of Arsenal: he grabs the odd goal, creates the magic in midfield and does the dirty work in defense at the same time.
Ozil’s biggest downfall with the Emirates was his stance, with his character regularly being questioned when he fell into the pecking order, both under Unai Emery and Arteta.
Yes, the German was as elegant as ever on the ball and Arsenal’s attack was better with him in the starting line-up, but outside of it he fell short of the required standards.
Especially in the Premier League, the game will pass you by if you are not willing to move yourself and this ultimately decided Ozil’s fate as he put his Gunners career to a disappointing end – with his last appearance in March 2020 pre-pandemic .
The hard truth is that Ozil fell short of expectations due to his character, but in Odegaard – while it is still very early – it seems that Arsenal has a player who can stand his ground with or without the ball.
Arsenal hopes that the new Norwegian captain is redundant at Real Madrid
But the biggest problem facing the Gunners is Real Madrid. As always with loan signing, it’s that heartbreak at the end of the deal that looms big.
The better Odegaard plays in England, the greater the chance that Madrid will want to keep the Norwegian in the books.
What Martin Odegaard’s key stats look like for Arsenal so far, he said SofaScore
The Madrid side is aging, especially in midfield, where Luka Modric and Toni Kroos are not getting any younger, and with his entire career ahead of him, Odegaard could be the future for Los Blancos.
But if Zinedine Zidane remains manager in the Spanish capital, it could be in Arsenal’s favor. Odegaard is struggling to gain the Frenchman’s trust and if he stays, it’s hard to see that change anytime soon.
So much depends on Zidane’s future. Odegaard loves life in London and thrives by being at the center of Arsenal’s plans, and if Madrid isn’t going to offer this luxury it’s hard to see him stay in Spain.
From an Arsenal point of view, it is a good idea to bring in Odegaard permanently to lead the club into a new era.
But for now they will pray that he is redundant to the needs in Madrid and that their financial demands are not too high.