Real Madrid loanee Martin Odegaard was handed his first Arsenal start by Mikel Arteta in Sunday’s 4-2 victory over Leeds United.
The Gunners returned to winning ways at the Emirates Stadium after a couple of disappointing results on the road. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s hat-trick and Hector Bellerin’s goal saw the north London side earn maximum points on Valentine’s Day.
The Norwegian was signed during the winter transfer window on loan until the end of the season and made substitute appearances against Manchester United and Aston Villa. But this was the first opportunity for everyone to see him in an Arsenal shirt from the off.
After studying the 22-year-old’s performance, we’ve picked out five reasons the attacking midfielder is likely to be a hit for Arsenal.
Having signed for Los Blancos at 16-years-old and with a huge reputation, Odegaard has been limited to just 11 appearances for their first-team. Fast-forward approximately six years and having had loan spells at Heerenveen, Vitesse Arnhem and Real Sociedad, he’s arrived in London with a point to prove.
Although his stay at the Emirates appears as though it’s going to be a short one, based on his work-rate, application and the boss’ comments, Odegaard has already impressed and will be determined to kick start his career.
Often when players arrive in England’s top-flight, it takes some time for them to adjust to the tempo and physical nature of our game. Despite playing very little football this season prior to signing for the Gunners, Odegaard looks sharp and up to the task.
Given the fact this is a short-term deal, he had to hit the ground running to prove to Arteta he can offer something and put himself in contention right away.
His heat map (via WhoScored) from the win over Leeds evidences his clear ability to get around the pitch and support his teammates off of the ball as well as influence proceedings on it.
Just prior to half time, Odegaard showed his wonderful technical ability when he took the ball out of the air, on the turn and escaped the attentions of two Leeds players who were closing him down – just one example of his brilliance.
On Sunday, the Norwegian was one of a number of technicians Arteta included in the side in a bid to beat Leeds’ press and exploit the spaces in behind their back four, much like the Arsenal of old.
Although his preferred position is a central one, Odegaard is also capable of operating from either flank, making him interchangeable with some of his teammates as well as providing Arteta with options.
His physical attributes and burst of pace go under the radar at times but the Gunners boss will be well aware of those traits and the versatility that comes with those.
Based on the player’s first interview as an Arsenal player, it is clear he has a lot of respect for Arteta and was impressed by what the Spaniard had to say during their initial conversations.
The Norwegian subsequently decided to move to north London and having spent a number of years being overlooked in Madrid, being appreciated and valued at Arsenal naturally creates an environment in which a talented young player can thrive.