He’s not Ozil, but he’s Captain Fantastic.
Martin Odegaard: isn’t the Norwegian midfield wizard a fantastic captain? Last season, at this point of the season, Arsenal were without a captain after Pierre-Emerick Aubamayeng fell out with Arteta. It was up to the senior players to lead by example.
Arteta had to make the bold decision of who his “prefect on the pitch” would be in the summer of 2022, in addition to reviewing his tactics and considering his recruits.
Many were surprised when he chose Odegaard as his captain, but how right was it for him to give the 23-year-old the armband despite the fact that he had only signed a year before?
Odegaard has been the “I lead you as you follow” captain, and his actions on the field have spoken for themselves. Odegaard has been the kind of player Arsenal players can look at when they want something to happen in the attacking department.
This was on full display in the North London Derby last weekend (he scored a superb goal from a hit outside the goal in the 2-0 win over Spurs). Darren Bent, a vocal Gooner, recently admitted on Talksport that he had to change his mind about Odegaard, who has gradually won him over.
“Ozil was unbelievable. I know it ended awfully, but him and Alexis Sanchez used to do things which were frightening,” said Bent when responding to whether Odegaard is as good as Ozil was.
“Odegaard, I wouldn’t say he is better in terms of talent but in terms of consistency, he has been head and shoulders (above). Turns up in big games, scores in big games, always contributes something.
“His goal was a fantastic strike. When you look at importance of players, Partey would be at the top, and Odegaard is close right now.
“A lot of people raised eyebrows when they brought him back after his loan spell; a lot of eyebrows were raised, myself included. I was a bit underwhelmed, and I thought, really? But this is why Arteta deserves a lot of credit. He’s brought him back, and he’s been fantastic.”
For the first half of the season, many didn’t see Odegaard for what he is to Arsenal, but you’d have to be biassed not to appreciate the playmaker the former Real Madrid man is turning out to be.
Thus far this season, in 18 games, he has 8 goals and 5 assists. His strong play earned him the Premier League player of the month award in December, and given his performances already in 2023, we shouldn’t be surprised if he wins it again this month, making it two in a row.