There were some doubts about the competence of Martin Odegaard when Mikel Arteta picked the Norwegian as Arsenal’s captain in the summer.
As the World Cup break approaches, Arsenal leads the Premier League standings by five points, and a choice he made in July is already paying off.
Odegaard is a soft-spoken individual. He does not conform to the Tony Adams and Patrick Vieira-type mold of the prototypical Arsenal captain.
You wouldn’t anticipate Odegaard to smash heads together, go on a rant, and motivate a comeback if the Gunners were down.
He is more likely to delegate Arteta’s yelling from the sidelines and instead try to motivate his teammates by acting like one on the field.
Was that what Arsenal required after so many years in the wilderness?
After almost four months since Arteta’s call, it appears we have a solution.
Odegaard has been one of Arsenal’s star players, helping them to a five-point lead over the competition heading into the World Cup’s five-week break.
His two-goal performance against the Wolves on Saturday was crucial. It was made even sweeter by the fact that Manchester City messed up, losing 2-1 to Brentford before the game even started.
As title contenders, Arsenal are now firmly entrenched. Nobody can question Arteta’s crew because they have proven to be the real deal.
Furthermore, given the current direction, it would be absurd to criticize Odegaard’s leadership.
After the game, Arteta was questioned about his choice to give Odegaard the captain’s hat.
He responded, “He is, in his own way, and with his character. He is a fantastic person and a fantastic footballer, and we are very happy to have him. What he is doing at his age is not easy.”
He was then asked how far Arsenal had exceeded his expectations, and his response provides some insight into why Odegaard is the ideal captain for Arteta’s Gunners.
Arteta stated, “I’m more concerned with our style of play, our style of living together, and the environment that we have in this dressing room.
And, in and around Colney, the connection we are establishing with our fans at our stadium, as well as the relationships that each and every club member has.
That’s a lot more potent, so the objective is to concentrate on becoming better every day.”
This response, which is reminiscent of Arteta’s response in July when asked to justify the decision to select Odegaard as captain, sheds light on the manager’s leadership approach.
“According to what I’ve observed over the last 18 months he’s been at the club with us, he represents the values of this football club, of this team, of his teammates and staff in the greatest possible way.”