Martin Odegaard can’t get a game under Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane, with the maudlin French football Svengali already stating that the Norway midfielder is in his plans for the future and that a permanent deal at the Emirates is out of the question.
Martin Odegaard will apparently be in contention for the first team next season, but Zidane also said something similar about Dani Ceballos, yet he continues to farm him out. So, if he’s that good, why did Zidane let him go, why did Arsenal want him so desperately and what’s all the fuss about?
Too many questions for one blog, so I decided to re-watch the first half of the North London Derby but only to observe Odegaard’s contribution, I did something similar with Thomas Partey, but not quite to this extent. My observations from real-time were that Odegaard’s feet and brain are very well connected and his ability to protect the ball from the advances of the opposition and redirect it are exceedingly good.
The Norwegian has a delightful speed of foot in tight circumstances, with very limited space, plus as we saw in the Olympiakos game, the boy can strike from distance. This was going to be a baptism of fire and I was sad that he wouldn’t be able to have the genuine NLD experience with a buoyant crowd.
Martin Odegaard vs Tottenham
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Martin Odegaard is a typical Arsenal player, light on his feet, mobile, pacy, and with a great technical ability which had shown itself in glimpses up until the Spurs clash. Two minutes in and it was noticeable that Odegaard held a slightly right of centre position. His free-kick in the first few minutes was decent enough and you could see his ability to recognise the flow of the game and burst forward.
His movement was good throughout, he rarely stood still as he followed the ball’s path upfield. Six minutes in and Odegaard had to come back into his own half to get more involved, he was happy to mop up and get a foot in. Every attack saw a burst of pace and a sprint into or towards the box as Tierney and Smith Rowe set about tormenting the Spurs’ left flank, Odegaard often just sat back off the initial break timing his run.
13 minutes on and Odegaard became more obvious for his contribution, continuously putting himself in space, looking for the ball, and linking the play. He pinched the ball which led to the Smith Rowe shot that rattled the bar and Hugo Lloris.
There were shades of Bergkamp, not in terms of comparable talent but the way the Dutchman once paced up and down the pitch looking for space and opportunities, Martin Odegaard was assessing and analysing the game and his contribution.
20 minutes in and Odegaard pressed, harried, and chased the Spurs players across the pitch looking to break up the play. His positional play was good and he was able to drop back to make life awkward for the Spurs side. Arsenal were in control (23), the Norwegian continued to impress with the accuracy of his passes and the speed of delivery. It’s an Arsenal thing.
In the meantime, Son’s replacement Lamela started to get involved with Granit Xhaka and Luiz as his emotions simmered. 29 minutes and Spurs started to get more of the ball and by the 33rd, Arsenal’s opponents looked likely to deliver something unexpected and Lamela’s Rabona was exactly that. Odegaard continued to press forward and showed his worth with some delightful touches just outside the Spurs box on the right resulting in a cheeky flick with his heel into space and the path of Saka.
41, and Lamela takes on Cedric with another forceful challenge. A ticking time bomb I concluded, with Odegaard still looming inside and outside the box presenting an ominous threat which was rewarded by a deflected goal from a Tierney cross. Two games, two goals, not too shabby.
In 45th, Toby Alderweireld joined the physical fray when he bulldozed Saka off the ball without any caution and the half ended with a poor Odegaard corner.
All in all, an impressive first half for the Real Madrid misfit and this could very well be a cause of concern for Arteta and his possible future plans for the Norwegian captain. More he shines, lesser seems to be his hopes of retaining him past the summer, if there was every any to begin with.