Martin Odegaard

Arsenal’s 3-3 draw away to West Ham was firmly in keeping with the post-pandemic times, as breathtaking football met lethargy, then switched places in the second period. 

The London Stadium outfit were 3-0 up inside the opening half-hour as Jesse Lingard punished his favourite opponents with a goal and assist early on before Tomáš Souček made the result seemingly inevitable. 

Arsenal pulled one back when Alexandre Lacazette’s shot was harshly ruled an own goal via a deflection off Souček – and halved the deficit when another dangerous cross from Calum Chambers was turned into his own net by the unfortunate Craig Dawson for his second own goal in as many games.

The Gunners would then seal an unlikely point when Lacazette headed home a late cross from Nicolas Pépé. It was no more than either team deserved over the balance of play given the slew of errors from both.

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Arsenal manager, Mikel Arteta was understandably frustrated with his team’s lack of concentration in key moments but was happy with the impressive fightback.

“The first half an hour was really disappointing, we weren’t at the races. We showed the face that we still have, but then we showed our spirit in tough conditions where any team could collapse, start blaming each other or show bad body language.

Arteta continued; “But in the second half, we played some of the best I have seen us play. We got better and better, and looking at some of the chances we should have scored six or seven.”

On-loan Real Madrid man, Martin Ødegaard continued to prove his class as he created four chances in the match – more than any other Arsenal player.

Odegaard had a key hand in each Arsenal goal against West Ham

Arteta lauded his number 11 who scored in consecutive games against Olympiacos and Tottenham.

“I think he had an incredible performance,” the Spaniard told his post-match press conference. “I think he was very intelligent the way he ready the game, the way he affected the game.

“He showed how much he wants to win. When everyone was a little bit trembling, he gave us that stability, that composure on the ball and created chance after chance.”

The 22-year-old twice fed Calum Chambers for his crosses that ended up in the back of the net via own goals and provided the pass that allowed Pépé to pick out Lacazette for his late equalizer. 

On the new Norway captain’s leadership qualities, Arteta added: “He is showing that I think from week one.

“The way he steps on that pitch and always wants the ball, the way he commands the pressing, he’s been really influential.

“I think we have all been surprised because he looks really shy and humble, but when he steps in that pitch he’s a real character and he loves to play football.”

Ødegaard has delivered a much-needed injection of quality to Arsenal’s ranks and is positively influencing his attacking colleagues, not least their bright academy graduates who are excelling in the first team, Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe.

The Madrid loanee’s winning mentality and wonderful talent might prove to be the difference-maker for the North Londoners who are chasing Europa League glory and a good final thrust up the league table in 2021.

Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin
March 21, 2021
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Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin

Chief Editor of the Football Castle, Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin is a football junkie and writer of the beautiful game.

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