Keown expresses his reservations on new Odegaard position

Martin Keown says he has reservation about Martin Odegaard taking over the number 10 position and pushing Emile Smith Rowe to the left-wing.

The Norwegian joined Arsenal in the last transfer window on loan for the rest of this campaign.

He is one of the most exciting players to watch, but he joined an Arsenal side that already had Smith Rowe pulling the strings from the midfield.

Many people wondered how Mikel Arteta wanted to field both players as Odegaard only made the move because he wanted more playing time.

The Spaniard has now managed to squeeze both creative midfielders into his starting lineup, but it has cost Smith Rowe his place as the team’s number 10.

Keown says the Englishman has been playing that role very well before the arrival of Odegaard.

He adds that the Norwegian hasn’t played so many games this season to take that position, but he can see that Arsenal is trying to build their team around him.

The 54-year-old told BT Sport as quoted by Sun Sports: “A lot of the problems for the Arsenal team is finding that spare player.

“It’s been Smith Rowe in the recent run. Odegaard has been given the luxury of playing in there.

“We’re still waiting to see, I think there’s a player under there but he’s not played much football for Real Madrid, maybe seven or eight games this season, maybe a bit short of fitness.

“But if you don’t give him the ball you can’t see what he’s capable of, but there were moments when he had the ball, good passes.

“He does really well for the goal, he’s a player they want to try and build around.”

Keown further added: “The reservations I have is Smith Rowe was playing especially well in that position.

“Now, perhaps he [Arteta] didn’t feel he was getting enough from [Nicolas] Pepe defensively so Smith Rowe’s gone into that position.

“Now you’ve got Saka and Smith Rowe in wide positions.

“They have really good movement, tuck inside nicely, they give that space for the full-backs to get wide and they know when to press.

“But maybe they lose a little bit, for the time being, until Odegaard is ready to match speed. There were glimpses of really good play.”

Tags Emile Smith Rowe Martin Keown Martin Odegaard


  1. Arteta seems to be developing wengers later failings by forgetting a balanced team over fitting his perceived best players in. He just doesn’t see that the most important part of a good team is the balance, front to back, left to right and power and technique.

  2. Hopefully he rests ESR for the city game (looks due a rest) and puts martinelli/pepe + Saka on the wings.

    Praying tesco and partey are fit for it 🙏🙏

  3. ESR is our most creative midfielder; isn’t it best if he plays centrally and is the one pulling the strings?

    We have Saka on the wings, Pepe, and Martinelli. It seems playing ESR as the 10 with Saka and either Pepe or Martinelli on the wings is the future lineup of the club.

    Why not use the rest of this season to get Saka, ESR, and Martinelli as many reps as possible in those positions to not only get ready for next year, but to build on the chemistry they have together.

    Let Pepe and Willian be the competition to push them and keep them sharp. I like Odegaard, but he’s a RM player and I would hope he can rotate with ESR, not supplant him so we can develop RM’s player for them.

    1. Did you see Odegaards through ball to Saka? Haven’t seen a pass like that from an Arsenal player since prime Ozil.

      ESR is better overall but Odegaard definitely has a better final pass than ESR

  4. Odegaard, no doubt, has the skills to play the 10 role effectively, but he will need time to learn the playing habits and preferences of players around him. Unfortunately this is not pre-season; this is not the time for experiments. I would put ESR back into the 10 role and use Odegaard as either a right-sided midfielder or winger- these are his preferred roles. Why are we trying to find a fix for a problem that does not exist?
    Most importantly, we should not forget that Odegaard was acquired to serve as back-up for ESR. We risk disrupting team chemistry and the overall balance of the team, forcing a loan player into the team ahead of our own players.

  5. Odegard should only get minutes to give smith rowe and Saka a rest. I feel completely lost with Artetas decision to give Pepe such little game time in the last two. Moving him to the left was actually working and he was immense against Wolves before the sending off. I would be half tempted to try a front 4 of Saka, ESR, Pepe and Martinelli.

  6. For anyone who thinks that Ode was brought in as a back-up, think again…he clearly received some of the same promises Arteta gave Willian before signing….big mistake to mess with the development of ESR to provide opportunities for a on loan player…if you want to play them at the sam e time move to a 4-1-4-1, especially once Partey is available

  7. Every comment here is right. So also is Arteta and whatever he is trying to do.
    He is playing 3players (Esr, Ode, Saka), who can switch roles effectively in that front line without altering the shape, form and balance of he team.
    And that’s exactly what the 3 have been doing.
    There is no other combination that can do exactly that in that team.

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