‘He’s not getting the ball’ – Arsenal stars told to stop ignoring Odegaard

Robin Bairner
Robin Bairner
  • Updated: 17 May 2021 18:35 BST
  • 2 min read
‘He’s not getting the ball’ – Arsenal stars told to stop ignoring Odegaard

Arsenal have to learn how to use on-loan Real Madrid star Martin Odegaard more effectively, club legend Martin Keown believes.

Odegaard joined the Gunners from Madrid towards the end of the January transfer window and only made his first start last weekend against Leeds.

He was given the nod in an unchanged side for the 1-1 Europa League draw against Benfica in Rome, and while Keown was encouraged by what he saw. He believes that the Arsenal team have to learn to play with a creative midfielder and give him possession more.

“There were glimpses of some really good play,” he told BT Sport, having admitted that he liked seeing Emile Smith Rowe play the No.10 position.

“He gets into acres of space [but doesn’t receive the pass]. Is this a status thing? The club have lost Mesut Ozil, who would take up that kind of position and would have demanded the ball. Now Odegaard has to do something similar.

“He’s not getting the ball. In that central position, if he gets it, he can be really creative. That’s just decision making from his team-mates.

“You want to get him on the ball. I think that’s why Arteta wants him in there, but you have to keep feeding him. When Arsenal learn to do that, make it second nature, they’ll be more successful.”

Odegaard vs. Benfica

Martin Odegaard
Minutes90
Touches67
Pass completion92%
Passes in final third18
Tackles/Won4/3
Duels/Won11/6

Odegaard touched the ball only 67 times over the course of the match, which was the second lowest figure of any Arsenal outfielder who started the match. Nevertheless, he completed 92% of his passes, including a game-high 18 in the final third, while he won three of the four tackles he attempted and six of his 11 duels.

Odegaard will hope to be in action against at the weekend, when Arsenal play Manchester City in the Europa League, although given Mikel Arteta’s squad selection that he may prioritise Europe for the rest of the season, the Real Madrid player may have to wait for next week’s return leg against Benfica to feature.