Football Features

Martin “smooth as silk” Odegaard runs the show as Arsenal beat Leicester for their fifth straight win

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 18:53, 13 March 2022 | Updated: 19:34, 24 November 2022

Martin Odegaard ran the show as Arsenal picked up their fifth straight win by beating Leicester 2-0 at the Emirates.

The win moves Arsenal above West Ham and Manchester United, leaving them in fourth place with three games in-hand over their two pursuers. The Gunners are firing on all cylinders and Martin Odegaard is a big reason why.

The Norwegian was simply sensational at the Emirates. Leicester deployed Nampalys Mendy seemingly specifically to stop Odegaard from influencing the game but that didn’t even phase Arsenal’s no. 8 who was the best player on the pitch from start to finish.

Odegaard created a game-high 6 chances and played a staggering 27 passes into the final third (obvously a game-high). Even though he didn’t have a single shot, he also put a shift in defensively, pitching in with 1 interception and 3 tackles.

It was a performance that recalled Mesut Ozil in his pomp, such a dexterous and deft playmaker whose chief concern is creating for others and making his team-mates better. Bukayo Saka had 5 shots, Alex Lacazette had 4, and that was in part because Odegaard linked everything together so neatly and efficiently.

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For all the (justifiable) hype surrounding Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Emile Smith Rowe, it’s Martin Odegaard who makes this side tick as everything flows through him, and he has the mobility and creativity to make the team soar.

Last season the Norwegian didn’t look like he could raise his game to this level in North London, but this season he’s looked so much more settled. He’s already played double as many minutes as he did last campaign and his chances created and big chances created have gone up, with 2.54 chances created per-90 vs. last season’s 2.08, and 0.26 big chances vs. 0.1.

“Young players going to Real Madrid, playing in the first-team, they don’t get the room of making those mistakes,” said Jimmy Floyd-Hasselbaink, noting Odegaard’s improvement. “At Arsenal he came last year; he was making mistakes, he was being put in, and still he was given the chance. They believed in him.”

“He was allowed to make mistakes, and that is where you grow.”

He has been absolutely sensational this season, and today in particular. Alan Smith gave him the man of the match award, saying: “I’ve got to give it to Martin Odegaard; he’s just been smooth as silk out there, the chances he’s created. Elusive player.”

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But in classic Odegaard fashion, he passed the praise on to his team-mates. “I think I’m in good shape but I think it’s all about the team, and the team is performing so well it makes it easier for us players,” he said after the match.

“You see Thomas and Granit, the job they do, they make it so much easier for me in the middle there. We’re strong as a team and that’s the most important thing there; then it’s easier for everyone to shine.”

Arsenal are certainly shining right now, and the way things are going, with Martin Odegaard at the helm they’re cruising on their way back to the Champions League for the first time since 2017, way back when Arsene Wenger was manager.