Yesterday I was chatting to Danny, Craig and Sulz on the Same old Arsenal podcast and we got to talking about who the next captain could be. Of course the conversation moved around a little bit, but the two outstanding characters that were mentioned were Kieran Tierney – a perfectly good choice I’d be more than happy with – or the alternative, which was Martin Odegaard (sorry, for my own laziness I’m not going to find the special ‘O’ on my keyboard each time when mentioning him. Apologies). I pondered on this as an option because the two would make very good captains. Tierney would be the traditional blood and thunder captain; he’d represent his teammates well, he’d be a chest-thumping captain in the traditional mould. But although I’d be happy enough to see that, I think I, like many people, am coming around to the idea of Odegaard as captain.
He would represent us well, but he’d also be what Wenger might call a ‘technical leader’ too; he’s one of the most technically gifted players on our pitch and I think his ‘lead by example’ approach to the way he plays football would make him my priority choice ahead of KT. You could still have the Scotsman as vice captain, but Odegaard to me feels like a great fit for the position. He’s also captain for Norway too, so he has that in his game. But imagine what being captain for The Arsenal as well as his national team could do for him? He’s already gone up a gear since the turn of the year and is finding some great form. He absolutely ran the show on Sunday and if you’re looking for your captain to be one of the first names on the team sheet, then right now you can’t go much further than Odegaard.
I’m properly coming around to loving him as a footballer you know. I just love the way he moves. His balance is impeccable and his ability to switch his body position to got in different directions can be mesmerising at times. It’s one thing to be able to drop a shoulder one way, then move the other when possession of the ball, but having been watching him closely of late, I’ve noticed that his balance allows him manoeuvrability to move in all directions. He isn’t just a left to right slalomer of players, because he can move his body backwards too when in possession of the ball and although I’m by no means an excellent footballer, I do know how difficult it is to be able to shift your body in all directions. And that balance and ability with the ball at his feet makes him really hard to get the ball off. He is able to retain possession of the football a lot and that also plays a big part in our build up play.
Think of it this way; if you’re an Arsenal player looking to make a run forward, you know that there is a degree of probability that the ball doesn’t find you, maybe because it has been intercepted, overhit as a pass, or maybe the player with the ball has been tackled. But imagine that you knew that the player with the ball at his feet on your team was 99.9% of the time not going to lose it. What would you be more likely to do? Make a run, right? After all, you’re less likely to find yourself out of possession if you know that your colleague is likely to find you with the right pass.
It’s about trust and I think those Arsenal players really trust Odegaard. And he trusts them. And they all trust each other. I loved reading this yesterday on Arseblog. Of course we’ve heard plenty of players say those kinds of things and of course, we’ve all wondered whether these types of comments are just lip service, but I believe him when he says about the connection with the players and it gives me the warm and fuzzy’s inside, I gotta tell ya. You can tell that Odegaard is feeling at home and his performances are bearing that out. But whilst we are all trying not to buy ALL THE TICKETS to the hype train as we’ve not achieved any goals just yet, we can all see it is going in the right direction.
And I think a lot of that is coming from the form of Odegaard. He had a six month bedding in period on loan at The Arsenal. I think that period has given him the world of good. He’s also played plenty of football , which is giving him the momentum he needs to succeed at the club, but as well as that he appears to have some of the biggest faith from his manager. Mikel Arteta made it clear last summer “nope, it’s Odegaard I want. He’s my guy” and I think that unwavering belief in the Norwegian is a big reason as to why he’s playing for us in an Arsenal. He felt the love, he felt the belief, he’s here long term and he can see his future in an Arsenal shirt. He can see he is one of the central figureheads at the club and whilst he’s only 23, the fact he’s been playing first team men’s football for a decade now (trained with Strømsgodset since he was 13 years old and made his debut at the age of 15 he made his debut) means that he’s actually more of an old pro than his years suggest. So for me I think he’s absolutely the best choice for captain and I have a sneaky suspicion that Mikel Arteta does too.
Something we did debate last night however, that I am not sure about, was why neither KT nor Odegaard have been given the armband as of now. I get it if he wants to give it to Laca as the senior statesman and not cheese the guy off and as well as that, he’s playing a good role as leader in the team (if not scorer of goals). But it does feel a little weird not to have done it already if he’s already made his mind up about who the captain is. Perhaps he hasn’t though and therefore this deferral of a decision makes sense until we get to the summer. Either way, I’m game for whoever it is, but if you gave me the selection choice, I’d be leaning well in to having the Norwegian as our skipper.
Catch you all tomorrow.
I think he would be a fabulous Captain for our club, he not only looks like a leader but he obviously loves our club