Martin Odegaard pulled off the sexiest slide tackle you’ll ever see

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Martin Odegaard celebrating after Arsenal's Premier League victory over Everton at Emirates Stadium, London, March 2023.

Spare a thought for Alex Iwobi this morning.

The mean-spirited among our population would already perform this ritual for all Everton players, but Iwobi’s embarrassment must be more acute after his chastening return to the Emirates.

Everton were poor throughout their 4-0 defeat, a side so mediocre that the Oxford English Dictionary are holding an emergency summit to redefine the word.

But Iwobi underwent some kind of public anxiety dream, one with dropped shorts and a gleefully laughing audience that makes you wake up in a cold sweat and slightly scared to return to the land of slumber.

The perpetrator on this occasion was Martin Odegaard, a player enjoying the best season of his career. As Iwobi and Odegaard chased a loose ball, both combatants threw themselves into a slide tackle to win the 50:50 challenge.

While Iwobi’s slide tackle was traditional – with the sole intent of regaining possession without any consideration for aesthetics – Odegaard was on another plain entirely.

After seeing Iwobi commit buttocks to turf, the Arsenal captain quickly regained his footing and pulled off a backheel so filthy that it’d be illegal to show footage of it in parts of North America.

The Arsenal fans whooped with apprecation, achieveing a similar pitch to a circus crowd watching an elephant walk across a tightrope.

And Odeegard’s slide tackle, a moment so sexy it could’ve impregnanted a nun, was similary ridiculous.

“I’m really happy,” said Arteta afterwards. “It was the game that we had in hand against an opponent that we knew were going to make life really difficult for us. We experienced that at Goodison.

“We started the game with some frustration, not really understanding what we had to do, allowing them to run in certain transitions, but after 20 or 25 minutes I think we started to get much better and I think the timing of the first two goals was key.

“We needed a magic moment there and Alex [Zinchenko] and ‘B’ [Bukayo Saka] produced it. And then the team grew, especially with Thomas [Partey], because Jorgi wasn’t feeling good today.

“When he came on, he really gave some presence and some stability to the team, and I think the second half was superb.”

Asked again about Saka’s opening goal, Arteta added: “In the end, you have to produce those magic moments and take that initiative and have that mentality, ‘I’m going to do it on the pitch. I’m not going to wait for somebody else to do it.’

“When you have a few players who have the willingness and the capacity to do that, you have a better chance to win more games.”

The Arsenal boss may as well have directed his gushing eulogy towards Odegaard. The Norway international enjoyed another superlative performance to help his side banish memories of last month’s reverse at Goodison Park.

They’re now five points clear at the Premier League summit. Immortality is within Arsenal’s reach.

Meanwhile, Iwobi has woken up and realised last night’s defrenstation can’t be chalked up to a late-night cheese binge; his humilation at the hands of Odegaard was real.

By Michael Lee


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