Jamie Redknapp feels Martin Odegaard is now a pivotal player for Arsenal and keeping him fit will be key to their chances of winning the title.
Odegaard, 23, scored twice as the Gunners beat Wolves 2-0 at Molineux on Saturday. In doing so, they opened up a five-point lead over Manchester City at the top of the table. The result ensured that the north Londoners will be top of the Premier League standings at Christmas.
The upcoming World Cup means Arsenal’s next league fixture comes at home to West Ham United on Boxing Day.
They have surprised many with their start to 2022/2023. Mikel Arteta’s side have won 12 and drawn one of their 14 top-flight games to date.
Odegaard has played a full part, starting 13 times in the league this term. The Norway international has chipped in with six goals and two assists.
And Redknapp believes that the Scandinavian is now as important as any member of the team.
“Odegaard’s had a great season, a lot of people talk about different players, if Saliba gets injured what might happen to the team,” he said on Sky Sports.
“But I think you have to put him in that bracket as well, he’s such an influential player for the team the way he controls the game.
“Especially heading forward, Jesus is having a bit of a moment, he’s playing well and doing a great job for the team but not got the goals.
“That’s when you need your midfield players, wide men can they chip in and make the difference. So for him to get two goals is just so important for the team.”
Odegaard key to Arteta revolution
Arteta struggled to make much of an impact after replacing Unai Emery at the Arsenal helm in December 2019.
It took time for the Spaniard’s methods to get though. But he guided the side to fifth last term, narrowly missing out on a Champions League berth to Tottenham.
Determined to set the record straight this time around, Arsenal have come flying out of the traps.
It remains to be seen if they can sustain a challenge until May. But they are playing attractive football, with all players seemingly singing from the same hymn sheet.
Arteta has an array of talented youngsters at his disposal. And it appears as though Odegaard may be the most influential of them all.
Fellow Sky Sports pundit Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink agrees with Redknapp.
“When he plays like that and especially in the second-half and he takes the ball and he runs at people he’s very, very difficult to play against,” said the former Chelsea striker.
And, the Dutchman doubled down on Redknapp’s comments, suggesting “he’s very, very important to Arsenal.”
Odegaard has now made 62 top-flight appearances for the Emirates outfit, scoring 14 times.
He has assisted eight goals but is now set for a spell out of the limelight as Norway did not quality for the World Cup.
He, along with City superstar Erling Haaland, will not be in Qatar. The pair will be able to recharge their batteries for a few weeks before retuning to action over the festive season.
Which of the duo enjoys the better fortunes next year might determine the destination of the Premier League trophy.
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