Arsenal fans are currently dreaming of the Premier League title as they sit seven points clear at the top of the table. One of the protagonists in Arsenal’s title charge is Martin Odegaard as he continues to prove important for the Gunners. Odegaard’s silky passing and hard work in attacking midfield has seen him score on seven occasions in the Premier League and create five assists. So why has Martin Odegaard been so important for Arsenal this season? In this article we explore the reasons why Odegaard is Arsenal’s most important player and what he provides that very few attacking midfielders do in the Premier League.
Martin Odegaard’s Importance: Vision
One reason why Martin Odegaard is Arsenal’s most important player is the Norwegian’s vision when creating chances. Arsenal’s victory over Brighton was a clear example of this as Odegaard hit an outrageous 25 yard pass for Gabriel Martinelli to latch onto as the Brazilian scored his seventh Premier League goal of the season.
Odegaard’s vision is so important as it allows the rest of the attackers to create all kinds of spaces in the attacking third as they know the Norwegian is capable of producing any pass to them. The Arsenal captain is a conductor to the functioning Orchestra which continues to hit the right tune. The likes of Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Gabriel Jesus adapt accordingly taking out defenders with their sharp movement allowing the Norwegian to hit the perfect pass without looking.
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To back this up according to infogol, Odegaard has completed 83% of his passes this season with the Norwegian’s assists matching his expected assists per game which is essential to Arsenal’s efficient clinical goalscoring record this season. Also Odegaard’s vision has been highly accurate with the Arsenal captain executing 80 through balls which ensures that the Norwegian is proactive in his passing ability and outlines his vision to pass forwards and create for his teammates.
Without Odegaard’s vision and passing range, Arsenal are unable to create clear chances especially against a team with a low defensive block, which most teams in the Premier League play with. Odergaard’s expected chance creation of 3.51 means that his creativity is most effective against more defensive teams. This isn’t required against the best teams in the league as Arsenal can rely on counter-attacking qualities from wide areas. For this reason, Odegaard’s vision is important and has helped the Gunners maintain a high level of performance and consistency.
Martin Odegaard’s Importance: Pressing
Another reason why Martin Odegaard is Arsenal’s most important player is the Norwegian’s pressing. The Norwegian’s position in the team means that he sets the tempo for the team not only on the ball but off the ball as well. Odegaard’s pressing is important because as the attacking midfielder he presses where the spaces are open which allows players like Granit Xhaka and Oleksandr Zinchenko to press forwards and suffocate the opposition in their own half. This means if Odegaard doesn’t win the ball back then the players behind him certainly well.
This is a fundamental and important tactical philosophy of Mikel Arteta and Martin Odegaard’s observational skills mixed with sharp movement in the press allows the team to press with authority. Furthermore Odegaard also likes to reposition himself in a midfield three alongside Granit Xhaka and Thomas Partey. This allows the team to re-position themselves structurally and reset their press quickly and lead the opposition into a false sense of security.
The final part of Martin Odegaard’s pressing that makes him such an important player for Arsenal is the precise movements that the Arsenal captain takes to force errors from the opposition. Odegaard takes small steps forwards which allows the opponent to feel rushed when actually the Norwegian is not rushing towards the opponent but instead being positionally clever. This allows rash decision-making from the opposition and allows easier retention of the ball as well as more effective chance creation.
All of these principles both positionally and in terms of pace makes Odegaard one of the best midfield pressers in the Premier League and the most important player in the Arsenal team.
Martin Odegaard’s Importance: Movement
The final thing that makes Martin Odegaard Arsenal’s most important player is his movement and runs in the final third. Odegaard’s positioning and threat in the final threat allows him to make unique runs in the box but what it also allows is other players such as Granit Xhaka to take more risks.
On the ball Odegaard is one of the best carriers of the ball this season which shows his ability to take risks in the final third. According to Soccerment, Odegaard has an expected threat from carries of 0.76 putting him in the top 5.3% in the Premier League. Furthermore the Norwegian has an expected offensive value of 5.38 which puts him in the top 1.8% in the league. This means Odergaard is one of the biggest attacking threats in the league and that’s all down to the way he carries the ball going forward and his movement to move past players and create space for his team-mates.
This movement also means that Arsenal have a sustained threat from wider areas and allows the defensive midfielders to have a better control of central areas. The heatmap from Soccerment shows that Odegaard’s main movement is on the right-hand side which allows Odegaard to make runs from deeper positions as well as help Bukayo Saka to create more effective chances in wider areas. As a result it means Granit Xhaka and Thomas Partey have more space in central midfield to create chances and also retain the ball higher up the pitch.
For these reasons, Odegaard’s movement is so crucial to Arsenal’s tactical system both in attack and defence and that proves just why he is Arsenal’s most important player.
Martin Odegaard’s importance is outlined through his vision and chance creation as his expected assists from open play is at 3.51 according to Soccerment. Not only that but the Norwegian’s pressing and movement ensures that the Arsenal captain is the most important player in the team and will be pivotal in Arsenal’s Premier League title dreams.
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