Friday, March 1, 2024

“We need options” – Arteta insists Odegaard won’t hamper Smith Rowe progress

Mikel Arteta says the recruitment of Martin Odegaard was driven by a need for options in midfield and insists the new boy won’t hamper Emile Smith Rowe’s development.

After an extensive hunt for a creative player, Arsenal sealed a budget-friendly deal to take the Norway international on loan for the rest of the season and he’s expected to challenge for the number 10 role.

While Smith Rowe has made the position his own in the last month, Arteta is keen to relieve the pressure on the Academy graduate who only recently returned from a long spell on the sidelines.

Having been captain of Arsene Wenger squads that were jam-packed with diminutive tiki-taka ballers, Arteta also hinted he won’t be shy to field the duo at the same time.

“Of course, they can play together, and it is not about pushing somebody else [out of the team],” Arteta said ahead of Saturday’s match with Manchester United.

“Emile has earned his right to play the way he is performing – and Martin has to earn that.

“Emile cannot play every single game, as we knew the other day. For example, in the FA Cup he was injured, he could not play.

“The other day [against Southampton on Tuesday], he could only play certain minutes because he was struggling for the last minutes.

“It has been a massive step for him for what he was doing three, four months ago and what he is doing right now. We need options.”

Despite their surprise defeat to Sheffield United in midweek, the visit of the Red Devils to the Emirates pitches two of the Premier League’s most in-form sides against each other. Both sides have taken 17 points from their last eight games to catapult themselves up the table.

Having been the subject of relegation talk in December, the Gunners are now seven points shy of the Champions League places with 18 games remaining. Arteta is pleased with the way his players have stuck together through a tough spell.

“I am really impressed with the resilience that we have shown as a team and how we have been through those difficult moments,” he said.

“I think that’s really important. You really see the people, the players, the characters and the values of a club when things are not going well. When things are going well it’s easy, everybody wants to be on the front page and with a smile to it.

“I think it’s been a really good test, to test again our character but as well, how we communicate and how we deal with pressure. I must say that I have been really impressed with that.

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Impressive run recently, need to keep it going in January and February, a tough run of matches.

Heavenly Chapecoense

Let’s go 20 unbeaten. Emery set the bar high.


Yes, that’s true. Success often breeds success so the more we win (or go unbeaten) the more confidence we should build across the team/squad.

Getting up the table must be the top priority so hopefully we can do it. I still think that an automatic EL place would be a good end result, considering where we were. It won’t be easy though as some teams around us have games in hand and we also need them to fail fairly consistently as we sustain our good run.

Glen Helders left foot

I really fucking hate United, more than any other team.


Guess you never heard of the The Invincibles.


The more the merrier

Johnny 4 Hats

Talented 23 year olds. Yes.
Expensive 32 year olds. Not so much.


It’s certainly good news as far as the former is concerned, but it doesn’t quite make up for the decision about the latter which suggests that we’re not quite out of the “transfer nightmares” prevalent over the last five years or so – but getting there, hopefully.


I don’t think that’s quite fair. While Willian has been a disappointing signing, on paper, it was a very smart move. PL experience, winning mentality, one of Chelsea’s better players last year.

For many reasons, it hasn’t worked, he hasn’t quite clicked for us. Does he need a proper pre-season? Perhaps.

Do I think he’s a starter? No, not at all.


3 Year contract for a 32 y/o is just ludicrous. At lease Luiz was a 1 + 1 Contract. It’s not like Auba who we know is a top player in the Arsenal setup.

The guys came as a sub for ESR and was not even running when we recovered the ball for a counter. He is the definition of cruising.


I agree on above, except for the terms of his contract. 200k + 3 years is ridiculous.


I agree with you Bud….on paper, the only problem I had with his signing was his elite-player wages, I always thought of him as a solid above average pro at Chelsea and it would have been totally fine with me if the club had agreed on something like 130/week (for a 2-year contract) or 100k/week (for a 3-year contract). This IMO, was in line with the market for a player of his category, profile, experiences and age…Then, even if it hasn’t work out too well like it is now, I would still be totally fine with his signing. A player… Read more »

Naked Cygan

The highlight of this poor season has been the raise of Saka and ESR. Let’s hope they can both stay fit and play most of the games. Partey has also brought the best out of Xhaka and hopefully they can keep that partnership going. Our biggest downfall is when we play Pepe and Willian together. This is not a good combination going forward.


Pepe is fine with the right players alongside him.

Willian should be offloaded to the nearest pub team muggy enough to take him.


Sadly I think we’ll keep saying this for the whole three years


Pepe is looking better all of a sudden


Steady now, it was one game. But maybe playing him on the left is the key. I would like nothing better than to see him be the next Overmars but he needs to be a lot more consistent.

Johnny 4 Hats

If we can somehow forget about his price tag and just pretend he cost £10m then I think Pepe will really start to find his feet in this squad. He’s probably not going to be the next Thierry Henry, partly due to the fact he just doesn’t occupy the mental space that a superstar does. He’s fragile and self doubting. Which is why a hefty price tag would have been the worst possible thing for him. If we can all find the cognitive dissonance in our brains to forget about it and just allow him to express himself, I’m sure… Read more »


Probably this yes. Arteta came out and said he needed to support him, that might have helped.

Playing him on the left possibly made a difference as well.


I guess we can, possibly should, but the club’s balance sheet can’t unfortunately. It would probably be an even better idea if Pepe himself could forget the weight and expectation that comes with the price tag as what he thinks has far more effect than our thoughts may have, one way or the other. However, as you imply I doubt he can and that’s contributed to his disappointing overall performance. Like you, I think there’s a useful player in there – as we’ve seen in glimpses already – but not an £xx million one (see, I’m trying) and almost certainly… Read more »

Dublin gunner

Sounds good pal,well said.

Paul Roberts

and shorter

Thierry Bergkamp (non negotiable)

Tierney too

Eddy F

When fully fit, an option is to field ESR left wing, Odegaard in the middle and Saka right. Very tasty that option behind a firing Aubameyang if possible at some point in the season.

Goodly morning

Seems all three could play across those positions. Could be some fluidity during the games as well. An exciting prospect.


Sounds like it could be the equivalent to Alexis + Ozil + Theo with Giroud up top. So much fluidity in that front 4. Though I think ESR, Odegaard and Saka with Auba/Laca up top could be better.

But lets give the new boy the to settle and adapt!


Aubameyang through the middle again 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

How we forget easily. Laca is our best option there and probably our only sensible option for now


When has Aubameyang played through the middle?

naked cygan

Watch or follow some games instead of wasting your time making stupid negative comments all the time.


ESR is going to be a massive star.

We’ve got to look after him, Saka, Tierney and Martinelli – they’re the future spine of this club.

Long contracts to tie them down should already be something the club must look into if they aren’t already doing so.

If the new loan lad comes up trumps, then great, make Real a decent offer. If not, send him back with Ceballos in the summer.

Dr Zebra

Though we are scoring more really good goals, the most impressive part has been our defensive record. We need Gabriel or Mari back in soon to partner with Holding. Add KT and Auba and we can definitely continue this good form!

On the right path?

Maria is impressive. Nice to have three very good centre backs. I’m also looking forward to a chambers revival. He was playing ever do well before his injury. Oh yes. Very happy.


chambers is championship level.


I’d love to see them tried together in midfield, in front of Partey. That would definitely boost our creativity, and given the quality of Partey and our newfound form in defence, might not expose us too much.


I see that as more of a ‘chasing the game’ scenario. Still, a nice option to have.

Nainsley Aitland Miles

Do you mean 4-1-4-1?


Looks exciting to me.


We have had a spell where we are scoring goals and gelling offensively, maybe we need to try Auba down the middle one more time. Hopefully it will be it this time, he won’t jump out of challenges or compete for the ball. Anyway Laca has been wonderful there with link up and a few goals it’s getting boring. we need to go back to dry spells

Hank Scorpio

Laca’s been decent because he’s got the players around him. It’s easy to forget that for a large part of the season was a thankless, isolated toil, regardless of who played there.


Great stuff! He looks like a superb signing all round!

I think it’s also nice that we can go into the second part of the season having let some players go over over the last few weeks.

Here’s to 3 points tomorrow!

Nacho de Montreal is tasty

Arteta can’t play both of them. We need to know how. Ode out of position but we already have Martinelli, and Auba, Saka the other side. I am glad, MA is well aware of the need to keep ESR in shape.


Either Smith Rowe or Odegaard can play deeper alongside Partey. They’ve done it before. Defensively worrying but it can be done.

Me from Here

The press always has something negative every time. I don’t see Odegaard and ESR canceling each other out but pushing and helping each other. We are playing games 3-4 days apart, and having 2 young attacking MF is a blessing. Having Odegaard in the FA cup against Soton would have made the difference.
They can also play together against deep opposition or when we need goals. We could play Partey as the sole defensive MF with Odegaard and ESR on either side behind the front 3. They are both hardworking and with attackers helping out, defending won’t be an issue.


I totally agree. Emile is wonderful, but if we make a run in the Europa League there’s no way he can play every game. And, hopefully, Odegaard and ESR combined can play at a level where we have some creativity no matter who plays.


Listening to Arsenal + United podcast, United fans saying their central areas don’t cope well with being pressed, which sounds like a job for Martinelli + Elneny

I’m bouncing for tomorrow, Saka + Smith-Rowe have restored my excitement for Arsenal again

Nainsley Aitland Miles

Xhaka won’t be dropped after the month he’s had, but I would definitely go for Martinelli on the left instead of Pepe (assuming PEA is out).


@arsblog or others, I don’t know much about ESR or Odegaard, but can either play the number 8 role? Leaving one slightly higher and the other building from the back beside Partey?

Dial Square Charity XI

“He’s [Ødegarrd] a specialist to play in the pockets, to play in the No 8 or 10 positions,” explained the boss.

Steve Vallins

I did say a while back in the middle of our bad run is that Arteta has to learn how to lose first to become better , you learn about yourself and the character of the players .
Arteta was a number 2 at MC not making the major decisions , Arsenal is a massive leap as a first managerial role and IMO is doing a fantastic job .


I think he is doing a brilliant job. To take over a club like Arsenal in the mess we were in, in a pandemic (where he caught the virus) with someones else’s underperforming players and with no management experience is an impossible task. To do this, win 2 trophies, push the club in a mostly upward trajectory, finally put together a decent squad with little money (also thanks Edu, doesn’t get enough credit) and carry himself so well week after week is nothing short of a bloody miracle. Sure he’s made mistakes, the biggest question I had was whether he… Read more »

Dublin gunner

Well said ,a lot of managers wouldnt of bein able to come out of that bad run of form without getting sacked or totally losing the dressing room.So well done Mikel keep it up.


brilliant is a bit of a stretch hes doing pretty poorly this season. things have improved enough lately for him to buy himself more time.
Next season hes gonna have to prove he can do something
hes had a season and a half of a free hit to shape the squad to his liking,

Hank Scorpio

To be honest, it was dumb luck with ESR, Saka and Martinelli that saved him. He’d likely have continued relying on the same players to improve. Maybe that’s what you need sometimes. As long as he keeps learning from his mistakes and adjusting accordingly we should hopefully continue on an upwards trajectory.


He’s absolutely right. We need options. There is nothing detrimental to ESR unless you listen to usual ex Arsenal chorus of ill informed pundits. We need variation in midfield. This has been something Emery and Wenger were struggling with for the longest time. When Emery was on the helm for a while, he attempted a fidget spinning rotating 3. But we have not got players who have gotten to that fluency (as say city have now with Gundogan) For us at the moment the best bet is to continue to develop the good balance and understanding between Xhaka and Partey… Read more »

Paul Roberts

The latest podcast with the Man U bloke saying how this is the old footballing Arsenal coming back to life summed things up for me. I am over excited and I don’t care! 🙂


I’m so excited to see 433 with Odegaard and ESR alongside Partey.

De Bruyne and Silva also attacked the half spaces with different qualities. With an intelligent central midfielder behind them


Auba Laca Saka
ESR Partey Odey
Tierney Mari Holding Bellerin


Did Edu just give his Coach what he needs in a January transfer window??

This is too much. Giving us hope is the most dangerous thing…

GeoffRey Hurstmaker

I can get down with that. If Auba is out, I’d probably go with Martinelli instead of Pepe. I might go Gabriel instead of Mari depending on form/fitness.

Murphy was an Arsenal Fan

Don’t understand why having both in the squad is a problem for the press and the so-called experts.

Nobody had a problem when City had Silva, de Bruyne, Bernardo Silva, Foden all in one squad. Why do these questions arise when Arsenal show the “audacity” to have actual squad strength?


NOTHING gets me going like watching the Arsenal play good, high energy football. I’m really positive that Arteta is moving us in the right direction. Recent recruitment has been good, Willian and Runnarson notwithstanding… It’s not perfect yet, our rough patch earlier in the season was painful but sticking with him was the right decision. He needs a good 2-3 years to get us to where we want to be. Pepe will give us some good moments. Hopefully Willian too, there’s got to be a player in there still although I don’t want to see him anywhere near the starting… Read more »


Yes, with the amount smithe-Rowe has impacted the team the thought of him being injured or just needing a shift or two off frightens me without a replacement.


I don’t believe for a second that Odegaard will hamper ESR’s development. Odegaard’s signed a 6 month deal and as far as we know at this point, he’ll be with us only for that period. ESR is one of the best young prospects in Europe and a kid who knows the premier league far better than Odegaard is ever likely to in six months. The question of development being interrupted is only pertinent if we sign Odegaard permanently, and speculation about that at this time is premature. If anything, based on conditions as of 31 January, ESR is the biggest… Read more »

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