Odegaard: is he maturing into that Özil-esque role?
By Jahid Islam
Hello there, readers of We Love You Arsenal! I’m Jahid (@JahidFullStop) this time waffling about the perceived shoe-in for that February Arsenal player of the month, no one other than Martin Ødegaard!
With the Norwegian playmaker’s impressive displays as of late playing a key role in our ascent up the Premier League table, there’s little doubt that he’s proved to be an inspired and influential permanent signing. Perhaps, and I say this tentatively, following in the footsteps of one of my favourite players to ever wear the red and white…. Mr Mesut Özil. (Though it is way too soon to tell for sure. You’ve been clickbaited, lol.)
A quick detour to fbref.com indicates that in the 21/22 Premier League season so far, MØ8’s passing statistics per 90 looks like one of them Evergreen forests in the valleys of Colorado or something. Like Jeff Bezos’ piggy bank. There’s just way too much green to not be eye-catching. I’ve heard that if you stare at his percentile rankings for long enough, you’ll begin to see the pitch markings of the Emirates. Don’t try this at home kids, you might go blind.
With a near-unanimous upper 90 percentile ranking for all things to do with passing, I’m getting flashbacks to my GCSEs when one of my mates would do fantastic in all his subjects across the board, seemingly effortlessly. And that’s exactly how it comes across when watching MØ8 linking up with Saka on the wing for instance. Not to say that he doesn’t work hard at Colney, but that innate ability is where I think that resemblance to Özil comes in. But unfortunately with the latter, he may not have had the necessary attitude, work ethic or whatever it is that Arteta demanded of him.
Naysayers of Ødegaard pointed out his tendency to ‘get in Saka’s way’ during his loan spell the season prior. However, since he’s moved here permanently, it seems evident that there’s a, and I absolutely hate to use this cliché, ‘chemistry’ between the two players in their link up play together. A prime example of which being against Brentford. Now I’ve linked the video clip below, but you better promise me that you’ll come back here, alright?
It seems that the only exception to the excellent passing stats is MØ8’s crosses per 90 which are rather low. However, an understanding of ‘Teta’s tactical set up shows that it’s instead the job of the right winger or left back to whip those balls in, so I wouldn’t be too concerned about that.
The rest of his stats compare competitively against United’s Bruno Fernandes or, though perhaps not surprisingly given their good form, West Ham’s Manuel Lanzini. Furthermore, his possessional stats per 90 represent a player who’s thriving in a role as the integral connection between the defence and the forward players, receiving a high volume of nonprogressive passes and converting them into progressive, accurate and successful passes to the forwards.
He's a vital cog in our current squad, and a forced absence will impact our play enormously. With Emile Smith Rowe proving to be an adept accessory striker/left midfielder as opposed to a playmaker, I don’t think there’s another player in the squad who can facilitate transitions, progression and building out from the back as well as we do with Martin Ødegaard in the squad.
It therefore appears as if finding a permanent home at the Emirates has done the former wonderkid a world of good. Both in terms of settling into a stable environment in which he feels valued in and at home, as well as playing slick football and earning the adoration of many fans. I mean, there’s a fan chant making the rounds on all the socials about him. That’s when you know you’ve endeared yourself to the Arsenal faithful.
In the rhythm of ‘September’ by ‘Earth, Wind, and Fire’: “Hey, hey, hey! Ødegaard, Dancing ‘round defenders. Ødegaard, No-one passes better. Ødegaard, Arsenal’s Magic number Eiiiiiiiiiiighttttt!”
Here’s a link if you wanna sing along or something. https://twitter.com/_grimanditweets/status/1499293401912643586?s=21 I’ve been Jahid (@JahidFullStop) for We Love You Arsenal! Thanks for reading, and I’ll catch you in the next piece. Probably with a lot less singing in it. ‘Til then, take care. Ba-bye!