Arsenal: Revitalised Martin Odegaard ready to pick Luton lock as attack starts to click | OneFootball

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Evening Standard

·5 December 2023

Arsenal: Revitalised Martin Odegaard ready to pick Luton lock as attack starts to click

Article image:Arsenal: Revitalised Martin Odegaard ready to pick Luton lock as attack starts to click
Article image:Arsenal: Revitalised Martin Odegaard ready to pick Luton lock as attack starts to click

A week is a long time in football, just ask Mikel Arteta. Seven days ago, the Arsenal manager was fielding questions about his side's stuttering attack.


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Eight goals in two games have silenced the critics since, and if Arsenal beat Luton on Tuesday night they will stretch their lead at the top of the Premier League to five points.

The Gunners travel to Kenilworth Road with the belief that their attack has begun to click — and that has coincided with Martin Odegaard's return to form.

Injuries have made it a difficult start to the season for the Arsenal captain, but last week suggested he is back to his best. Odegaard scored against both Lens and Wolves, however, it was his overall performance against the latter that really caught the eye.

No one made more passes than Odegaard, and he was unlucky to walk away without an assist on Saturday after creating six chances for his team-mates — the most of any Arsenal player in a game this season.

Article image:Arsenal: Revitalised Martin Odegaard ready to pick Luton lock as attack starts to click

Martin Odegaard is back fit and back in form

Arsenal FC via Getty Images

The Norwegian looked a threat throughout and, tellingly, he made 52 passes in the final third, again the most by any player in that match.

Luton will be another examination of Arsenal's attack, with the hosts expected to sit deep. Odegaard will be charged with picking the lock — and Luton will do their best to starve him of the space he craves.

Arsenal have, at times, struggled to break down teams this season, with sides showing them more respect after their title charge last term. Odegaard has suffered more than most with a lack of space, but now the 24-year-old is fully fit, he is convinced that will change.

"I had a bit of bad luck, because first of all there was an issue with my hip, then while I was dealing with that I got a concussion as well, which ruled me out of a couple of games," he said. "Then, on top of that, I got sick, so I had a few rough weeks, but the most important thing is that I'm back now and feeling better."

Few young players have had as glamorous a career as Odegaard, who joined Real Madrid as a 16-year-old, and the trip to Luton could be a shock to the system for him and Arsenal. Based in a packed residential area, Kenilworth Road is a throwback ground and a place plenty of sides have come unstuck in the past.

Liverpool were held to a draw there last month and, if Luton are to beat the drop, then their home form will be key. They are 17th in the League, but Arteta is treating them with the utmost respect, not least because he knows their manager Rob Edwards well after doing his coaching badges with him.

"He's a great coach and a really special person as well," said Arteta. "You can tell the way he coaches his team and the way his team behaves. I'm very happy for him and what he's doing. We've stayed in touch, because he was at Watford not long ago, so we've been pretty close."

The games come thick and fast around this time of year, and Arsenal need three points before tougher tests later this month. They travel to Aston Villa, who are fourth, on Saturday and then have a trip to Anfield two days before Christmas.

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