Martin Odegaard has everything to become the “complete player” according to Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta, who thinks the Norway international can add more goals to his game.
Odegaard has impressed since joining the Gunners on loan from Real Madrid in January and followed his first goal for the club against Olympiacos last week with the equaliser in Sunday’s 2-1 north London derby win over Tottenham.
Ahead of the return clash with Olympiacos, where Arsenal hold a 3-1 advantage, Arteta warmly praised the 22-year-old playmaker.
“He’s getting better and better. I think his understanding of what we want is excellent,” he told the media.
“His work rate has been phenomenal. And then he’s doing something which, in my opinion, he could improve a lot, which is getting in the opponents’ box and being more decisive in the score line.
“He’s doing that. He’s scored two goals, he’s got some really important entrances in the zone and he looks really dangerous all the time.
“It’s something that if he adds that to his game, he becomes a real complete player.”
Odegaard’s two goals in all competitions are more than any other Arsenal midfielder has managed since his debut, with only Bukayo Saka (19) having more than his 11 shots.
He is also the best among his midfield colleagues over the same period in terms of chances created (13), while behind only Mohamed Elneny in terms of passing accuracy (92.9 versus 90.8 per cent), having played 468 more minutes than the Egypt international.
14 – Martin Ødegaard’s strike was his first ever goal for Arsenal – the Gunners have now had more different goalscorers in the UEFA Europa League this season than any other side (14). Range. pic.twitter.com/CXKeFjMz1c
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 11, 2021
“I think everybody has been really impressed with how quickly he adapted. How professional he is,” Arteta said.
“How quickly he adapted to try to engage with everybody at Colney [Arsenal’s training ground] and then the performances he is putting in as well.”
Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang is back in contention to start after a disciplinary breach led to him being benched for the win against Spurs.
Asked whether Aubameyang had been stripped of the Arsenal captaincy, Arteta replied: “That was dealt with on the day. It’s been resolved in a really positive way and we move on.”
Fellow forward Gabriel Martinelli could get a chance for valuable first-time minutes against Olympiacos, having struggled for fitness and form this season.
“If anything, it’s my fault,” Arteta said over the Brazilian youngster’s lack of game time. “He’s done everything perfect. He trains incredibly well every day. His attitude cannot be any better.
“He’s really disappointed that he’s not playing more, obviously I have spoken to him. But he needs to be a little bit patient.
“He had some minutes, he had some games as well and it’s true that the competition now for the front positions is very tough. He needs to be patient and he will get his chance.”
Saka, meanwhile, faces a late fitness test having made way at half-time in the game with Spurs due to a hamstring complaint.
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