Three possible solutions to Martin Odegaard’s ‘bad day at the office’ against Chelsea

Martin Odegaard is a crucial player for Arsenal. He was important to Arsenal regaining their competitive edge and fighting for the league title last season. In fact he was the Premier League midfielder with the most goals (15).

He has started every Premier League and Champions League game this season and has only been subbed off three times.
We overdepend on him; that’s clear.

Anyway, during this time, he has scored four goals and provided one assist. Those are impressive numbers, but his performances have been below standard this season, with the exception of a 4-0 Champions League triumph over PSV and also the 4-0 win over Bournemouth.

Some criticized his performance against Chelsea. I read somewhere after the London Derby that his performance was regarded as “a bad day at the office,” with him struggling to get on the ball. And when he did have the ball, there was a definite lack of quality.

It’s been suggested that he be rested when Arsenal next play (versus Sevilla). I believe a breather would be useful, and here’s why:

1. To make him face reality

Martin Odegaard’s recent poor performance provides cause for concern. He hasn’t been as sharp as we remember him to be in terms of passing and finding teammates; thus, being dropped may be the perfect move by Arteta to remind him to work hard to get back to his previous standards. The Gunners benefit from Odegaard’s connecting play and through balls, but Arteta should give him a rest. Who knows, maybe watching from the bench will inspire the Norwegian.

2. Try him in a different role.

What if he started on the left side of midfield? Why? This season, the Saka-Odegaard combination has been ineffective, owing to Odegaard’s inclination to stick inside rather than offer an overlap. The right side works well due to Saka’s unique ability and Ben White’s overlapping runs, more than because of Odegaard. Odegaard should be moved to the left side of midfield for a bit and experimented with there. It might also provide Arteta with the opportunity to try out Havertz on the right side of midfield.

3. To offer other players an opportunity

Arsenal has a number of players that don’t get enough playing time but can play the Odegaard role, most notably Emile Smith Rowe. The Hale End graduate missed the majority of last season due to injury and hasn’t put together a string of games since then.

Smith Rowe stepped in to save Arteta when he was in trouble, and many Gooners wanted him fired. He was a delight to watch, so fluid and efficient at converting opportunities. On paper, his pairing with Saka appears to be great, and supporters would love to see it return to the Premier League.

Fabio Vieira is another player worthy of consideration for the position. The Portugal international is a rare type of footballer with a lethal touch, whether it’s for crosses or shots. A player like that on the team is a threat to other teams.

Do you agree that Odegaard needs a rest?

Darren N

Tags Chelsea odegaard


  1. What crisis?
    This is a tough away fixture,
    He was up against two players with a combined value of over £222 million to contend with.
    The game plan was dismal to say the least.
    Isn’t Tomi and Partey a better pairing than Zinchenko and Jorginho going up against quality opposition?

    One thing for sure Odegaard will bounce back with blood in his eyes because he’s pedigree.

    1. 👍Gunsmoke, good points, TY o which I would add that Odegaard has not been given good service in the last few games. He has been constantly forced to receive the ball under pressure, because of poor passes and heavy marking. All opposition coaches realise that if Odegaard is marked out of the game and passing lanes to him are cut off, the fluidity of Arsenal’s fast high intensity passing game is disrupted. Similarly Saka is often double marked and his form has fallen away accordingly.

  2. I’m not very good at player judgement, but wouldn’t it be better to have someone in such a crucial position to be ambipedal? No one since Santi has been able to do this, and it’s so easy for an opponent to force a player onto their “wrong” foot. Saka can take a player either side, so perhaps his future lies in this position. As for Odegaard, I hope he can get his mojo back, and start earning that huge salary he recently negotiated.

    1. I’m not so sure about the need to be ambipedal. Lionel Messi is no doubt one of the best playmakers of all time and he’s as one footed as they come-never been a problem for him.I think it’s all about the coach putting a player where their ‘one footedness’ is not an issue. Santi Cazorla is a rarity, even in professional football. In today’s football, I can only think of one player who is equally adept with both feet- Ousmane Dembele.

  3. Oh dear, one not great game and there’s three options to basically replace him! He will star in the next game after just a bad day at the office. Stop trying to make more of it than it was, other players had worse games.

  4. I don’t agree with this analysis of the Odegaard situation. I believe context is important in any analysis. There are two important questions that need to be asked. Is Arsenal playing the same system this season as last? Is Odegaard playing the same role this season as last? The answer to both questions from where I sit is no. Last season both Partey and Xhaka were heavily involved with build up in the middle third,while often Odegaard would be the most advanced of the trio. Xhaka would occasionally arrive late in the box to take shots or make crosses on the overlap-essentially a box to box midfielder.

    This season I’ve noticed Odegaard is playing a lot deeper; collecting the ball from the keeper/defenders to aid build up in the middle third alongside Rice. He is playing a role similar to Xhaka but on the right. This has meant that he’s further away from the attacking third where he normally does play making. Logically, the further a player is from the opposition goal, the lower their attacking output will be. On the other hand,Odegaard’s defensive contributions have more than doubled because of this-something he doesn’t get credit for. He is averaging more than double the number of tackles he did last season.Indeed,there are multiple games this season where Odegaard has led the team in terms of successful tackles made.He’s been playing more like a box to box midfielder. Dropping deep to build play and arriving late in the box to take shots. The fact that a lot of his shots are taken outside the box also illustrates that he’s playing deeper.On top of this, Odegaard also leads our press when we are without the ball- another crucial but thankless job that he doesn’t get credit for.

    In a way, Odegaard’s situation is a bit like that of Bernado Silva at City.At the beginning of last season,I had Silva in my fantasy team and he was averaging a goal contribution every other game but then Guardiola changed his system and the goal contributions dried up for Silva. The assumption for someone who doesn’t watch City would have naturally been that Silva was out of form but that wasn’t the case- it was a consequence of Guardiola moving him further into central midfield (it’s worth noting that he was the deepest midfielder for City against Arsenal in the 1-0 win). Similarly, we have to be conscious of the fact that Odegaard is performing a different task this season and that is down to INSTRUCTION from the manager.

    That said, I think the altering of Odegaard’s role has negatively impacted the team. The Saka-Odegaard-White triangle was our most potent attacking threat last season. With Odegaard playing deeper and more centrally, that bond has been broken, leaving Saka isolated. I get the feeling Jorginho was brought back in the team to free Odegaard from the buildup duties as a remedy to our recent play making struggles,especially in the absence of Saka who we’ve been relying on for chance creation. In a nutshell, the ‘Odegaard Problem’ is a consequence of him playing based on instructions from the manager and not really him being tired or out of form-in my opinion. Whether he is suited to this new role he’s been assigned by the manager is debatable.

    OT: I thought Havertz looked more comfortable on right in his brief spell there than on the left. I think it’s worth a shot trying him there. I can see him knocking down balls on that side for Saka to do the damage. That could also mean trying Odegaard on the left. Who knows,it could work. I can see Odegaard making those disguised passes for Martinelli to chase. Odegaard and Saka are both creative playmakers who do a lot of combination play whereas Havertz and Martinelli are more direct players who do a lot more running. Perhaps pairing a direct player with a combination kind of player could work well. It’s just a suggestion.

  5. His time will come, he might even contribute in goals tomorrow. The thing is it’s not up to him or any of his team mates to shine it’s all down to the gaffer and his tactical approach towards a given game. Nothing to worry about as far as he’s concered if you view it in a perspective that our players are not just sent out to the field to play however they wish.

  6. Why is this writer picking on Odegaard in a game in which the entire team simply failed to turn up? It’s only in the dying moments of the game that there was some sort of improvement in our game. And that’s largely because the Chelsea keeper decided to be generous and Arteta changed tactics to go fairly direct.

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