Arsenal Debate – Is Smith-Rowe better than Odegaard right now?

Smith-Rowe is a better playmaker than Odegaard by AI


Playmaking these days has evolved. Once it was all about occupying central advanced zones on the pitch and waiting for the ball to come to you but the likes of Luka Modric have shown that a modern playmaker has to be one capable of influencing play in deeper areas of the pitch. Influence is a subjective part of football. Lionel Messi at 34 is still one of the most influential players ever if his team has got possession but out of it, he mostly walks about, not doing too much to apply pressure or effort.

Football is rapidly evolving a tactical need for ‘complete’ profiles in every spot—defenders who can not just tackle but can pass over long and short distances like Pirlo are welcome (Van Dijk, Hummels, David Luiz); fullbacks who can not just run the entire length of the pitch and play like a winger but also come inside to the middle and play like an interior (Joao Cancelo, Philip Lahm and Zinchenko); midfielders who, whether advanced or not can do literally anything (Luka Modric, Joshua Kimmich, Thomas Partey, Thomas Muller, Gundogan, and all these German midfielders); strikers that can play like a 10 (Firmino, Benzema) and wingers that can occupy like strikers or work as hard as fullbacks depending on the desires of their coach (Sterling, Saka, Mane, Salah).

There is a significant difference in the influence and profiles of either Arsenal’s young playmakers. While Odegaard can definitely work hard off the ball and can play out wide and deeper as an 8, Smith-Rowe simply has a bigger influence on the pitch. His propensity to roam wide or deep anywhere on the pitch seems to be the result of a superior education in a first-tier English academy, training with Mesut Ozil, being in the Redbull setup and half a year successfully spent trying to make things happen for a Championship side facing relegation. Smith-Rowe as a result looks like better fitting for the tactical demands of modern football.

Odegaard, meanwhile, has spent years learning in Norway, uncared for in Madrid, out on loan to small Eredivise sides and finally to Real Sociedad last season. He needs more coaching to develop his game. Fortunately for him, Mikel Arteta is potentially a coach that can unlock other facets of his game. At Real Madrid, unless you are a supertalent who can already contribute significantly to Real Madrid’s insatiable demands, young but incomplete players like Odegaard must develop fast and almost all alone. The way Real Madrid short-circuit the development coaching of their promising young lads is loans. Casemiro, Carvajal, Hakimi, Reguilion, Reyna are some examples.

Smith-Rowe can play his game at any angle, on any side and in any area of the pitch. That’s Modric-esque. The English lad is the very definition of ‘pass and move’, agile, can carry the ball over large distances singlehandedly, occupy space ahead or behind the ball, has great ballstriking technique, works his socks off defensively, and has a great head and goals in him. His skillset is simply more complete than Odeegard’s and his potential to be a top midfielder is undoubted. Clubs who desperately wanted him like RB Leipzig, Tottenham and Monaco would know. We may have one of the most complete advanced midfielders of the next footballing cycle on our hands. Hopefully, he can stay injury-free.

Agboola Israel


  1. Without getting too carried away ,ESR has the ability to become an excellent attacking midfielder who can operate from the wide positions if necessary.Like Foden of Man City he is very difficult to pin down because he is constantly on the move. It’s too early for me to pass judgement on Odegaard, who is clearly highly skilled on the ball, but if I had to pick one of the two it would be ESR.

  2. Smith-Rowe is better in aerial duels, more pacey and has more chemistry with Lacazette/ Saka, whereas Odegaard tends to wait for a perfect through ball chance like Ozil. Odegaard worked very hard in Burnley, but I still prefer Smith-Rowe due his physicality

    1. gotanidea, Odegaard has been here five minutes. How about we wait until the end of the season to assess performance.
      It’s a good thing JA wasn’t around when Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry started with Arsenal, as some people would he been pushing for them to be sold.

  3. It doesn’t matter as long as both perform when called upon! Man u winning Bruno Fernandes with his customary penalty, that man could finish top goalscorer on penalities alone lol.

    1. It’s a joke Kev really is ,penalty after penalty ,I haven’t seen it ,but I would imagine it was soft and doubt it was more blatant than ours yesterday

      1. An investigation should be held at the end of the season looking into corrupt uk officials because these weekly decisions are starting to look very suspect.

      2. Kind of clumsy from Jesus but I’ll tell you what Dan, had that been us I don’t see it being given! They’ve had an insane amount of penalities over the years and when they don’t get one like last week against Chelsea there is a whole inquest! I hope so mate as that whole fa just reeks of corruption..

    1. If we bought ceballos and odegaard it would cost us £60m if we sold Xhaka and Enleny we could £30m.

      If we brought back Guendozi, Torreira, Maitland-Niles and Willock it will cost nothing keep those along with Partey and Smith-Rowe. 6 midfielders for 3 positions

      1. And don’t progress up the table. Arsenal need a specialist DM at least and Torreira isn’t him.

  4. Whoever watched Santi Cazorla play for Arsenal knows to well that both of them are not the answer.

    1. You are 100% spot on. Both are not at the same standard as Santi Cazorla. After only a few years, Arsenal fans have forgotton the type of soccer we consistently displayed to the world. Past tense for display because we cannot see it anymore. They are forgetful and have to visit YouTube videos to remind them.

  5. I am picking odegaard.I think he is far more technical and has got good football intelligence.
    Both of em have huge potential but as odegarrd will return to RM ESR should be given more game time in the middle

  6. do prefer Smith-Rowe to Odegaard. ESR love the one two which is simpler and better than just holding onto the ball for possession sake. I hope ESR can stay injury free and go on to be one of the better midfielder in the next year or two.

  7. it’s difficult to properly evaluate who’s better, as we haven’t watched either player perform, at this club, for any considerable length of time, but what we did know is that ESR was the only true revelation this season, on purpose or otherwise, so when Ode arrived he should have made way and played out wide instead of forcing ESR into a relatively unfamiliar position…we aren’t the kind of team that can afford to look a gift horse in the mouth, which is exactly what we did with Martinez!!

  8. Actually, we sold a keeper who demanded first team guaranteed playing time, rather than proving he deserved it, for a reported £20,000,000.
    This, it is claimed, allowed us to sign Partey, whilst keeping our No. 1 keeper.

    On the articles question, until we know that Madrid will sell Odegaard, we need to promote and nurture our own – ESR for me, with Odegaard second and Ceballos a distant and undesirable third.

    1. so you’re suggesting that Leno was worth less on the open market than Emi?…we spent countless years trying to find a true number 1 keeper, ever since Wenger ousted Szczesny, following the famous smoking incident, so the fact that we actually lucked into finding a keeper with a commanding presence to finally fill that position, only to sell him a month later, is absolutely ridiculous and to suggest otherwise is nonsensical at best

      1. TRVL. Fine in theory but as KEN rightly said, he demanded to be first choice and that can NOT be given to any player ever. Reality is we had two top keepers and neither one would stay as a regular number two,. Our manager made his choice, (as did MARTINEZ) and as a SUPPORTER, I will back him. Never as simple as some fans think!

        1. oh you mean unlike the one’s Willian and his agent or Ode/Real received to join the team, or likely what was guaranteed to both Xhaka and Luiz to remain at the Emirates??? if you think players/agents are asking for guarantees and getting them from Arteta, among other managers of course, then you’re sadly mistaken…due to our mediocrity we not only have to give booster wages, we likewise have to provide enticements in the form of guaranteed starting minutes…I might think differently about the whole Emi gig if he wasn’t a longtime player and FAN of the club and we hadn’t gone through such an horrific period without a credible top-class keeper…Martinez’s commanding presence was even more important for a club that has struggled for a sense of organization and confidence in and around our own box

  9. We have 2 players we are nurturing for Real Madrid, and we are benching our own, or forcing them to play unfamiliar positions.
    Odegaard for me hold on to the ball for far too much, the same for Ceballos. ESR is very direct and clicks beautifully with saka. Why will you scatter that chemistry because of a borrowed player of another team.
    We are linked to all Tom and dicks from all part of the world. We have kids hungry and waiting to showcase their skill in our academy, why not promote them and stop wasting unavailable funds. (I’m not talking about Nketia, Willock and Nelson; we should have let go of these set of kids last summer)

  10. ESR has not put a foot wrong. He’s been excellent before Odegaard came in to the side. I don’t understand why a loan signing has replaced him. Odegaard had hardly been effective on top of that.

    It’s highly probable that selections by managers aren’t just because of raw field output. There are a lot of other social factors that affect a manager’s decisions.

    It’s irrational to not play ESR and Martinelli ahead of the pensioners and temporary infective players.

  11. They are both very skilled, but too different to compare against each other. MO is far better on technique, passing and brains. ESR moves quick with the ball, challenges more, JW anyone? I say both could fot into the team together. Out with the olds. Laca, Will and soon Auba..

  12. Maybe Arteta is trying to justify the signing of Odegaard, like it appears he is doing with Willian and Pepe. What seems more mystifying is that, from all reports, Real Madrid want him back at the end of the season. So why not let ESR play and learn on the job. It is obvious Arsenal are going nowhere this season, so what have we got to lose by letting ESR play the number 10 role for the rest of the season?

    1. JW, it is important to manage ESR’s game time carefully, so he returns fully fit next season. One must consider his age, physical development and injury record.

  13. Seems strange if Madrid want him back, by all accounts Zidane doesn’t rate him so if he is still the manager I don’t see why Odegaard would want to go back to not play.
    We are so slow without ESR in our team he sets our tempo with his quick passing. Not a fan of him being shunted to the left, would rather we played Odegaard deeper or both in front of Partey if both play. He’s certainly a good passer but the zip goes out of our team without Emile

  14. An irrelevant question, since one is a player on loan and unlikely to be signed permanently, while the other is a product of our adcademy and has a contract with the club.

  15. ESR’s quick passing gives him the advantage over Odergaard who slows things down and has a tendency to also look sideways and backwards. So far there isn’t much between then unless the Norwegian has some tricks up his sleeve which he hasn’t yet had time to reveal. Providing he’s fit I’d give the kid from Croydon the nod, at least to start games. I’d also gamble further and put Odergaard in Xhakas’ position. Could it be so bad?

Comments are closed

Top Blog Sponsors