With one divine dummy, Odegaard proved he’s Arsenal’s future captain
As the scenes at the Emirates during Arsenal’s win over Wolves nearly caused an earthquake in north London, the name on everyone’s lips was neither the scorer nor assister of either goal.
Late, late goals from Nicolas Pepe and Alexandre Lacazette (but given as an own goal from Jose Sa) gave the Gunners a big boost in the race for a top-four finish, and completed a great comeback after Hwang Hee-chan had given Wolves the lead.
Despite taking a while to score, Arsenal were completely dominant, and even though there were top-quality performances all over the pitch, one stood out above the rest: Martin Odegaard.
The Norwegian playmaker has been in fantastic form for months, but this was arguably his greatest display in red and white.
His passing was silky throughout, and his vision seemed impossible at times.
Breaking down a low block is often a difficult task, and Wolves possess one of the best defensive records in the league. After they took the lead, the unenviable task of scoring two goals seemed destined for failure.
This was no problem for Odegaard though, and he led the team superbly. His performance showcased his quality, leadership and, most importantly, his filthy technique.
He’s finally been getting plaudits, especially after a mesmerising dummy in the previous game against Brentford, and he only went and did it again.
With a ball played to him in his own half, and a Wolves player closing in, Odegaard solved what could have been a tricky situation with a dummy so perfectly timed that Romain Saiss was left completely puzzled.
It’s a skill that really sums up Odegaard’s vision and speed of thought; he’s always a few passes ahead of the game, and knows exactly what to do with the ball when it’s fired towards him.
Arsenal were pushing the ball with urgency all game to try and find an equaliser. Odegaard was crucial to this, and he did it in style.
The more miserable type of fan would fume at any hint of a fancy skill when in desperate need of a goal. Stop this tippy-tappy rubbish and just put it in the mixer.
Odegaard combined the best of both.
Beyond dictating the entire game, covering more ground than all of his team-mates (and the most for any Arsenal player in a game this season), he was influential in both goals.
Playing a perfect chipped pass to Eddie Nketiah in the box, before starting the quick passing move that led to the winner, Arsenal could not have won without him.
There has been much talk about who will be named permanent Arsenal captain at the end of the season following the departure of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, and Odegaard is one of the strongest candidates in the squad.
Already the Norway captain from a young age, his drive and mentality has made him the embodiment of the new Arsenal Mikel Arteta is creating.
Young, hungry, technical and level-headed, he is not someone who hides from danger. Odegaard steps up and leads the team forward during times of adversity.
His passionate celebration when the goals went in tell you all you need to know: he’s finally found a home after years of constant change and is developing into the star that he was mooted as when he was just 15.
He has admitted he feeds off the energy of the Arsenal fans, and as they went into bedlam after the winner, it was obvious how much Odegaard felt it.
“Well it’s true that sometimes it can be more difficult in stadiums with a big atmosphere,” Odegaard told Arsenal’s website.
“That’s the good thing about playing at home, you know the fans will support you, give you energy and make it harder for the other team. So for sure it can be more difficult playing away, when the fans are pushing for their team, whistling you and all that kind of thing.”
“It can affect you in the game, but at the same time it’s something I really like about football.”
“The fans are such a big part of the sport, you feel that energy when you are playing the game and that’s really cool. There’s nothing like it when you feel that backing from your own fans.”
He’s ticking all the right boxes off the pitch to earn the armband, and makes the team tick when he’s pinging the ball around with such elegance on the pitch.
At £30million, Odegaard was a bargain.
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