Arsenal

Martin Odegaard picked off where he left off in second Arsenal debut

Matt O'Connor-Simpson
Odegaard impressed on Wednesday
Odegaard impressed on Wednesday / Quality Sport Images/Getty Images
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Less than 60 seconds into Arsenal’s Carabao Cup second round tie against West Brom on Wednesday night, Martin Odegaard was on the receiving end of a crunching tackle usually reserved for the Sunday League pitches located within spitting distance of the Hawthorns. 

The player responsible for the challenge, Quevin Castro, picked up a lightning quick yellow card for his trouble but that did little to soften Odegaard’s evident pain. 

The lunge was a brutal reintroduction to life in England for Arsenal’s recent £35m signing. However, throughout the 60 minute cameo that followed there was little evidence that Odegaard had let the incident affect him. 

The midfielder, and Arsenal, will face much tougher tests than overseeing the much-rotated Baggies this season, starting with a near-impossible looking trip to the Etihad Stadium on Saturday. 

Even still, after a few early scares - courtesy of West Brom’s high press and clever set piece routines - there was an assurance and swagger in Arsenal’s performance that has looked a million miles away during their opening two Premier League games. 

There were plenty of encouraging performances. Arsenal’s entire frontline, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Nicolas Pepe and Bukayo Saka all scored and gelled well, even if they were afforded a comical amount of space to run into by the West Brom defence. 

Aaron Ramsdale, whose signing has been much-maligned, had a great game too. As well as making some excellent saves, his distribution - that Arteta has waxed lyrical about to anyone who will listen recently - was superb. 

Amid all six goals, though, we found our eyes being drawn to the understated but graceful Odegaard. Arsenal have spent the entire summer searching for a creative midfielder with Emiliano Buendia, James Maddison and Philippe Coutinho being considered with various degrees of seriousness in recent months. 

In the end they settled on the safest option, Odegaard, who enjoyed an encouraging loan spell in north London during the second half of last season. These promising signs continued on his ‘second debut’. 

Odegaard has an uncanny knack for finding space between the lines, counting himself among the Premier League elite for most passes received last season. This was something he was accomplishing with ease against West Brom’s admittedly unorthodox midfield. 

Once he received the ball, he rarely gave it away, misplacing just six passes all night and knitting things together confidently. After a solid first half where he played a supporting role in some of his side’s best moves, Odegaard turned up the sexiness after the break. 

Receiving a pass from Bukayo Saka on the edge of the box, he produced a delicious back heel weighted to perfection. West Brom’s defence could only watch on in awe as Saka raced onto the pass and thumped the ball past David Button. 

Soon after, Odegaard was taken off, no doubt with that aforementioned trip to Manchester City in mind. Don’t expect him to pull off a similarly audacious assist with such ease in that fixture, but his calmness in possession and energy off the ball will be vital to give Arsenal some respite against the champions’ offensive onslaught. 


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