Morning. A quick Friday round-up for you.
We haven’t had much on this weekend’s game against Leicester yet, but Mikel Arteta is due to meet the press this morning so we should have a glut of stuff throughout the day. The only little glimpse we’ve had comes from the training pictures, so what can we read into those?
Well, Martin Odegaard is in them, and having missed out on Tuesday because of a minor injury that’s a positive. I know his last couple of appearances have been a bit disappointing, but I’ve been quite surprised with how quickly some people have written him off. I guess I shouldn’t be, to be honest, football Twitter appears more and more to be a place where only absolutes exist and there’s no room for nuance, but I’m still confident that he’s going to develop into a very good player for us.
He’s still only 22, and it’s not as if other, often more experienced, players in his position didn’t drop similarly indifferent performances in the past. However, in much the same way that Arteta has been demanding of Emile Smith Rowe when it comes to what he produces on the pitch, I’m sure he’s of a similar mind with Odegaard. The talent is there, the ability is there, he’s done it in the past – the loan spell at Real Sociedad in the 2019-20 saw him scoring and assisting with regularity and panache. So much so the Guardian’s Sid Lowe said, “Martin Odegaard has probably been La Liga’s best midfielder.”
He might not start against Leicester, especially if the manager decides the team that played so well against Villa deserves another chance, but the season is long and I’m much happier about our squad with him in it than not.
Ben White wasn’t there, maybe not quite 100% after the bug that forced him off against Leeds. Hopefully he’s just taking it easy and will be ready for the weekend. It’s not just that the partnership with Gabriel is developing nicely, it’s that he looks like a player that is really settling down at his new club, and beginning to feel at home and confident in his role. Against Villa and against Leeds, we saw him carry the ball really well, and you can see more and more what he’s going to bring to the team.
Like any young player – in particular young defenders – there are going to be ups and downs, but after an inauspicious start to his Arsenal career (the Brentford game then a bout of Covid), things are looking up. He’ll have plenty to deal with against Leicester tomorrow if he plays, so that’ll be another big test for him.
Also absent from the pictures was Kieran Tierney whose bruised foot may well keep him out of the trip to the King Power. It could be a case they are just resting him so as not to aggravate the injury, but I like that this season we can play Nuno Tavares when he’s not around rather than Sead Kolasinac or Granit Xhaka. That feels a much more dynamic option (this is called understatement). The young Portuguese is like a whirlwind down that left hand side, a combination of pace, direct running into the final third, and decision making which isn’t always perfect but which is often exciting.
We haven’t really seen him tested defensively so far, and with Leicester coming into this one in decent form having beaten Man United, Spartak Moscow, Brentford and Brighton in their last four games, they are going to give him lots of think about tomorrow. It seems clear that he was kept on the bench for the Carabao Cup because they knew Tierney was a real doubt, so good luck to him tomorrow if he’s picked.
Beyond that, everyone looked in good fettle in the pictures, so any further team news will come during Mikel Arteta’s press conference this morning. As always, we’ll cover all the stories over on Arseblog News.
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Thanks folks. For now, I’ll leave you with a brand new Arsecast, featuring Arsenal legend David Seaman talking goalkeeping, Ramsdale, fond memories and lots more. All the links you need to listen/subscribe are below. Enjoy the show!