After watching Martin Odegaard deliver another understated midfield masterclass, this time helping Arsenal to a 2-0 win over Leicester, Mikel Arteta said his summer signing makes his teammates ‘better’.
On an afternoon when the Gunners coasted to victory, the Norway international drew plenty of ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from the Emirates Stadium crowd as he showed off his full portfolio of deft touches and eye-of-the-needle passing.
“He was terrific again today in every aspect of the game,” said Arteta in his post-game press conference.
“What he had to do in defending, when we were high, when we were deep, in the build-up phase, in the final third and the way he understands and manages the game when it’s needed.
“I think he’s come a long way since his arrival, he’s showing great maturity and responsibility on the pitch. And he makes the other players better, I think.”
That Arsenal ‘only’ paid £30 million to Real Madrid to secure Odegaard on a permanent basis is starting to look like very good business.
While Arteta wouldn’t go so far as to label the 23-year-old a ‘bargain’ he made clear he’s not surprised by the quality the player possesses after coaching him during last season’s loan spell.
“I don’t know [if it’s bargain],” he said. “It’s still a little bit early to say that but we were convinced he’s a player that could fit in our club, in our model, that has every value that we want from players that represent this club and then he has the qualities that we want to do. We’re really happy with him.”
Stringing five wins together on the bounce in the league has been a rarity for Arteta since he became coach in December 2019. While his squad managed the feat at the end of last season, this latest run feels more significant. Not only does it keep us in a prime position to seal a place in the Champions League, but it also underlines the way each and every player is growing a better understanding of their respective roles on the pitch.
“This is what all coaches want, that they [the players] can understand what we want to do and they can do it at a certain speed as well,” said Arteta.
“Then it gets more complex because you need the right timing, the right technique, the right qualities, the right decision-making but you could see today that there were moments where it clicks and everybody is in the same page and they all look for the same things, which is very important.”