Saturday, July 13, 2024

Arteta: Odegaard’s goals very important to us

Mikel Arteta always believed Martin Odegaard could become more of a penalty box threat and says the 14 goals the Norwegian has scored for Arsenal this season are a testament to his willingness to improve.

Thanks to his brace against Chelsea on Tuesday night, the midfielder now has double the number of goals and assists compared to last season in almost exactly the same number of minutes (7G & 4A in 2,793 mins total played last season vs 14G & 8A in 2,828 mins played this season).

Odegaard is one of four Gunners to hit double figures in the league this season and that collective effort has helped propel an unlikely title challenge. Squeezing more goals from the midfield has long been an aim for Arteta whose sides – certainly in their early iteration – were a little shot shy.

“That’s something that our attacking midfielders have to have the ability to do,” Arteta said of his captain’s scoring. 

“That’s why we play in a certain way to exploit those spaces. Martin has the capacity to do that, he’s finding himself in those positions and then he is being very effective in the final action. It’s something very important for us.”

Pressed on whether Arsenal are doing anything specific in training to drive such an improvement from Odegaard, he added: “No, it’s about what we want in the position and what we think is capable of doing.

“All the time we have to think to adapt to the quality of our players, but as well trying to inspire them to go a bit further.

“That’s what they’ve been doing and explore other things that can be incredibly important for the team to help us to win more games.

“He’s always been open and he works really hard to try to achieve that all the time.”

While his side have been far more potent in the box this season compared to years gone by – the current crop have already scored seven more goals than Arsene Wenger’s fabled ‘Invincibles’ – he says there is still room for improvement.

The Gunners currently trail Manchester City by a point and could be four points behind the reigning champions by the time we play Newcastle on Sunday. While two defeats at the hands of Pep Guardiola’s side have been damaging to our title chances, the points dropped in draws due to a lack of killer instinct also irk the boss.

“We need to find moments that are crucial in games to kill them [opponents] and find better ways to finalise games. We’ve had a few, especially with the games that we have drawn.”

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Teryima Adi

Odegaard has been awesome this season. In contention for Arsenal player of the season. Like the gaffer said, there’s still room for improvement.

Eric Blair

What’s exciting about him is we all know there’s more to come.

A Different George

I wonder where Odegaard’s international reputation would be now (he’s still only 24) if, instead of Real Madrid, he had signed for a decent Bundesliga club or played in France a couple of years when he was a teenager. My guess is he would be as well known and as highly regarded as the very best midfielders in the world–Modric, De Bruyne, etc.

Leon

I think his international reputation is very high now. I would actually say his reputation at 24 years old is greater than either De Bruyne or Modric at the same age. The sky is the limit for him as along as the team develops at the same rate.

A Different George

I don’t disagree with anything you’ve said. I was just wondering if–since he is quite clearly now a world-class player–he would have reached that level more quickly with a different career path.

Leon

The thing I find astonishing about Odegaard is not his stats this season – which are excellent but the fact that he has done such a great job as Captain. On the face of it he is quiet and introverted and not overly loud or passionate on the pitch – not exactly a Tony Adams but there he is, excelling as our club captain and he never seems overwhelmed or out of his comfort zone – though I don’t think he was too impressed by Zinchenko’s group hug in the game against Man City (which we won’t talk about) A… Read more »

Big L HoP

Isnt Smith Rowe one of those decisive players too? Considering the improvement in the attacking player’s numbers this season, if ESR was fit and playing in this team I’d expect him to affect games in the final third with even more regularity than the last campaign. I hope Arteta is just being cautious a la Martinelli in the past, and we see ESR eased into preseason and given real game time. I can take Hale Enders like Balogun leaving, even if honestly it leaves a nasty taste in my mouth, but ESR has contributed in the past and there’s nothing… Read more »

Billy bob

He could/should compete with xhaka for the attacking midfield spot, I also think we should keep balogun

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