Ferdinand backtracks over ‘weigh heavy’ comments as Arsenal star thrives under Arteta

Arsenal star Martin Odegaard puts his hands on his hips Credit: Alamy
Arsenal star Martin Odegaard puts his hands on his hips Credit: Alamy

Rio Ferdinand has praised Arsenal midfielder Martin Odegaard for proving him wrong over comments the captain’s armband could “weigh heavy” on him.

The Norway international has been in brilliant form for the Gunners this season with the 23-year-old providing six goals and two assists in 13 Premier League matches.

His form has helped Arsenal to the top of the Premier League table with Mikel Arteta’s side winning 12 of their 14 matches to go five points clear of defending champions Manchester City at the summit.

Odegaard was given the Arsenal captaincy on a full-time basis in the summer after Arteta had created a ‘leadership group’ with former skipper Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang leaving for Barcelona.

But after their first game of the season against Crystal Palace, Ferdinand suggested the captain’s armband could “weigh heavy” on Arsenal midfielder Odegaard this campaign,

“I reckon you nailed it with Odegaard, I reckon that captain’s armband weighs heavy,” one of Ferdinand’s fellow Vibe with Five pundits said about a conversation they had before the show.

Ferdinand replied: “Yep! Heavy! I said that in the group chat. It could be a different Odegaard this year.”

The Man Utd legend has now moved to clarify his comments on Odegaard and praised the Norwegian’s performance in their 2-0 victory at Wolves, in which the midfielder scored both the Gunners’ goals.

Speaking on Vibe with Five, Ferdinand said: “We spoke with Mikel Arteta about this the other day, about checking the boxes and ticking off certain things that have hindered Arsenal football club over the last probably 10 or 15 years.

“Being soft in the centre and being easy to play against sometimes, away games being hit and bullied, and players and fans calling them out – I remember Troy Deeney called them out.

“But right now they’re ticking off those boxes. That game was one where they probably get beat 1-0 in years gone by. But I didn’t have any doubts, I was thinking, ‘When are they going to score?’

“And I was as pleased as anyone to see Odegaard be the man to step up and have that moment.”

When it was brought up that Ferdinand had doubted the Arsenal star just a few months before, Ferdinand added: “We’ve got technical people behind the scenes, can you get that clip up and show what I actually said, I said it ‘could’ be something that weighs heavy on him.

“Whether or not it happens, I didn’t say it would. I said it could. I hoped it wouldn’t, but it could.

“One thing you can’t question with this kid is that he’s been a child superstar, we’ve known about him since he was probably 13 or 14 years old. He is delivering right now, as captain of Arsenal football club.”

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