Where Odegaard fits into the Arsenal starting 11
Arsenal fans are rightfully extremely excited about the addition of Odegaard from Real Madrid, even if it is on a short term loan. It got us wondering, where does Arteta intend on playing him?
We are assuming that Real Madrid are only letting him leave, subject to him being guaranteed regular football at the Emirates. Something which I’m sure Arsenal have likely assured Real Madrid of. As such, where does he come into Arteta’s plans? Will he take Smith Rowe’s starting spot? Will he be operated out from the right? And crucially, is there any way we can have ESR, Saka and the new Norwegian playmaker in the starting lineup together.
Option 1: The Likely Option
In all likelihood, Odegaard would likely be rotated with Smith Rowe to at least partially diminish the burden on our Croydon De Bruyne. And I think this is a really important option to have. As good as Smith Rowe has been, he has almost been too good. Insofar as we are in danger of becoming reliant on him. If he burns out or picks up a knock, we do not have another true playmaker in the squad. Furthermore, despite playing in similar positions, they bring something very different to the team. Smith Rowe moves the ball on very quickly, opting to use as few touches as possible to keep our play quickly. This is perfect in matches that become a little bit stretched and are a bit more back and forth. In the games where a team decides to put all 11 players behind the ball, we might need someone like Odegaard who holds on to the ball for a bit longer but is always looking for a killer pass to break that kind of team down.
Option 2: Odegaard on the right?
Odegaard has also played on the right hand side before, and it might be that he will do so for Arsenal. In a similar style to Ziyech of Chelsea, I can see him potentially causing oppositions real problems when cutting in on that left foot. It is also an option that would see Smith Rowe keep his spot in the side. Whilst it would be fun to see this option exercised every now and then, there is one major concern I have with it. Saka BELONGS on the right. Saka was demonstrating for Arsenal that he was very comfortable on the left, but with Tierney playing so well at LB I do not think we need them both. They would both be looking to do the same thing; get to the byline and cross. They may end up just getting in each other’s way. Besides, Saka has looked so outrageously dangerous on that right hand side, for the most part he has to keep that spot.
Option 3: The Future
It has been well documented that Arsenal do not have an ‘option to buy’ clause in this agreement with Real Madrid. However, reports suggest that if Zidane does decide to sell in the summer, Arsenal would be afforded a first refusal. Meaning that, if every falls into place we may have Odegaard on the books for more than just 6 months. Therefore, ideally we will need a way to cram in all of our best young talent. This one has Martinelli up top, Odegaard behind him with Smith Rowe moved over to the left. However, what I want to see is whether Saka, Odegaard and Smith Rowe can do what Sanchez, Ozil and Ramsey were doing a few seasons ago. When we had possession, none of their positions were really fixed. They all rotated around each other and were constantly occupying different positions. If these 3 can develop that kind of free-roaming connection, with Martinelli running in behind, we could be looking at a very dangerous attack for a number of years to come