Odegaard v Smith-Rowe – Who should start for Arsenal?

Despite what people say about Mikel Arteta’s management skills, it would appear that the Arsenal coach, along with Edu, have made some excellent talented and youthful buys in the summer transfer window. Arteta said at the end that the project was only half complete and his aim was to have two top class players for every position.

He has certainly done that with Tierney and Tavares, and despite early reservations, it now seems that Martin Odegaard is making a name for himself as a serious challenger for our young Number 10, Emile Smith-Rowe.

He has now scored in 3 of our last four games, and when the Norwegian was replaced by Smith-Rowe in the West Ham win, it was ESR that made his claim by scoring the decisive goal near the end.

It was Odegaard’s birthday yesterday, and Arteta could not have praised his protogee any higher than he did, when he told Arsenal.com: “He’s very, very young but he’s already had a lot of experience in different clubs, in international football,”

“I agree that in the last few weeks he’s getting very close to his best level.

“The ceiling for him, I don’t know where it is, with the talent that he has, the desire that he has, how much he wants to always improve and get better. We’ve got a tremendous player there.

“He is a natural leader. If you look for the perfect professional, he wouldn’t be very far from that.”

It is a great problem for ARteta to have, but it can’t be easy for him to decide who is first-choice at the moment. Yes Odegaard is scoring at the moment, but Smith-Rowe is far away our top scorer in this campaign with 7 goals, so must be hard to leave on the bench.

If you were Arteta, who would you choose to start? Or could they possibly play together?

Tags Smith-Rowe


  1. If we play with a formation that requires a CAM, Odegaard should play in the middle because of his diagonal passes and dribbles to the left side. This increases our attacking LB’s chances to receive the ball in the final third

    If we need a false/ half right winger to be an element of surprise, Smith-Rowe can start ahead of Odegaard in the CAM position to exploit the half space on the right side. He is also good if we need a tall CAM to win aerial duels

    Smith-Rowe’s height and his ability to “read” the games also make him ideal to play on the left wing, as seen in the number of goals he scored and the number of interceptions he made from that position. However, Martinelli is currently productive, so I think Martinelli will play today

    Smith-Rowe was also not bad when he played as a false nine against Villareal, unfortunately the fans criticized Arteta heavily for that creativity. Smith-Rowe’s height, pace, passes, dribbles and understanding of the games could make him one of the best false nines in EPL, if the fans are more patient

      1. De Bruyne did it brilliantly in 2019/20 season. David Silva also played well as a half-winger, but on the left side

        A half-winger or mezzala is basically one of the midfielders in 4-3-3 formation, who drifts wide frequently to attack a half space

        1. another absolutely ridiculous take…those player characteristics you have attributed to ESR have nothing to do with being an effective player in wider positions, but could make sense playing through the middle…once again, shake your head GNI

            1. he didn’t play in wider positions for City, he literally captained the middle of the pitch with the freedom to roam…besides you made it known to anyone who would listen that you don’t watch other teams play, unless they’re playing us of course, so you have functionally no credibility anyways…when ESR is deployed on the wide side he simply tucks inside on occasion due to our propensity to attack the full length of the pitch with our LB

      1. Lol…Welcome to the world of got an idea. He’s obsession with which foot midfield players use is amazing.

  2. ESR is quicker and far more dynamic than Odergaard but should be played in the middle not out wide. Odergaard maybe sees a pass better than ESR in tight situations but at the moment ESRs overall game is better than Odergaard. I struggle to see what Odergaard can do to make him a better footballer at this level because he isn’t that quick, doesn’t tackle back and physically weak. Odergaard didn’t impress me last season and so far this season has just scored 3 on the trot but it cant be a flash in the pan if he is to deserve his place in the team, he needs to use his cleaverness to get in the box more to score more to give him a real weapon in his armoury. ESR can and should just improve because he has all the tools ready and waiting.

    1. True to that about Odegaard and notable when the ball is taken from him, he does not try to get it back.

    2. Odegaard turned 23 yesterday, he’s still very young, he may not increase in pace, but he doesn’t necessarily has to since he’s not that slow anyway, but he can, and I think he will, improve in the other ares you mentioned. Having said that, I do think ESR is the better option atm.

  3. Based on production and getting teammates involved, ESR no doubt. Being present in big moments? EsR for me. ESR has the pace and finishing, don’t see teams trying to mark Odegaard like they do ESR.

    Lastly, versatility as well. ESR can play on the wings, as a 10, even drop deeper in midfield almost like Santi did years back.

    Odegaard is a 10, and is a liability on the wings or deeper in midfield.

    Sorry but I view Odegaard as a luxury type player, situational based on the opponent.

    ESR can play against any opponent in a couple positions if required, can Odegaard? That’s the deciding factor for me, but I’m not the manager.

  4. We could play both as CAMs in a 4-1-4-1 formation.. or stick to 4-2-3-1 play ESR in CAM position and ODE in CM alongside one of Partey or Xhaka.

    1. I definitely can see them playing together, with ESR in close proximity to Saka, when Saka and ESR play close to each other, they are practically unstoppable.

  5. ESR and Odegaard should share the no 10 position…..two players per position……against a team like Leeds I’ll start with Odegaard…but of course I’m not the manager…..)

  6. If we play Xhaka and Odegaard in midfield their lack of pace will preclude us from counterattacking quickly which is a tactic which has been effective for top sides particularly Man City and Liverpool.Odegaard has made his mark recently and deserves to keep his place against Leeds and we are fortunate to be able to call upon ESR if the need arises.My problem is trying to understand what Xhaka brings to the table .He brings a measure of balance to the side, being left footed, but other than that I never see him driving forward, playing one, two’s at speed, and rarely does he get into a position to have a shot at goal.In any event he will no doubt start against Leeds and I only hope he goes on to prove me wrong.

  7. I have said this many times before, but let me try one more time.

    Arteta is a “Flavor Of The Week” manager. It is Nellie who is keeping ESR out at the moment not Odegaard.
    Arteta did the same when Tavares was the FOTW, keeping Tierney out.

    Arteta has chosen Odegaard as his Golden Boy, and will keep playing him until he has a stinker, and might not drop him even then.

    Hence ESR will not play the number 10 role as a starter.
    He will have to wait for Nellie to have a bad game, but even then ESR will be consigned to the left wing.

    I think ESR is our best, most intelligent, player by a distance. He is also our leading goal scorer.
    What other team leaves it’s leading scorer on the bench?

    I have said this before, but I really believe ESR needs to leave Arsenal, or he might never see an England shirt again.

  8. I like Odegaard but ESR is much more exciting. He wins games. He is a goal threat now.
    Odegaard seems to be too slow, weak and disappears in tough games.
    Seems like a Ozil clone but with much more energy and fight.

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