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Martin Ødegaard receives high praise as Arsenal move into fourth place in the Premier League

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By Martin Graham | 9th Mar 2022

Martin Ødegaard was singled out for praise by pundits as Arsenal beat Watford 3-2 to move up to fourth place in the Premier League on Sunday.

Ødegaard was part of the goal scorers along with Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli. However, his overall play saw a lot more plaudits than the goal, which was also applauded greatly by fans and pundits alike.

Both teams scored potential goals of the month in the fixture. The Gunners, however, were at risk of fumbling another victory as Watford pushed for an equaliser but held on to claim all three points despite a glorious bicycle kick goal by Cucho Hernandez and a cool finish by Moussa Sissoko for the hosts.

The win took Arsenal to fourth as Manchester City thrashed Manchester United 4-1 in the Manchester derby which followed later to send the Red Devils down to fifth place.

The game did not start so well for Arsenal as Watford striker Emmanuel Dennis scored in the opening minute of the game but was adjudged to be offside.

Arsenal woke up after that scare, and inspired by Ødegaard, produced a superb goal finished by the Norwegian midfielder.

Before the game, Ødegaard was encouraged by Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta to add more goals to his game.

“He needs to play close to the opponents’ box, for sure,” Arteta said in his presser before the match.

“He needs to create more goals, he needs to score more goals, he needs to make more runs in behind, he needs to be closer to the strikers to give them support, and he can do that.

“He needs to score more free kicks. He can still contribute more on our set pieces. His defensive work is phenomenal.

“There are areas where he can only get better, and the only way to get better is to agree on them, and then practise.”

The goal was the Norwegian’s first since mid-December when he scored in three successive Premier League matches against Manchester United, Everton and Southampton.

Ødegaard: I feel comfortable in Arsenal

Martin Ødegaard signed permanently for Arsenal in the summer after a loan spell from Real Madrid last season in which he greatly impressed.

The 23-year-old midfielder broke into the ranks as a 15-year-old when he was signed by Real Madrid from Norway. However, he couldn’t find his footing for a long time in Madrid’s youth ranks and on-loan to several clubs across Europe.

A loan spell at Real Sociedad in the 2019/20 season rejuvenated his career and earned him a move to Arsenal on loan in the 2020/21 season.

He further impressed while at the Emirates, earning himself a permanent move for €35 million on Odegaard and has continued to put in good performances since that time.

The former Real Madrid midfielder spoke to Norwegian TV outlet TV2 and said that he feels comfortable at Arsenal.

“I feel that I have become more important for the team and I now occupy more space. I have found my true position and now have connections [on the pitch] all around me. I’m getting better all the time,” Ødegaard said.

“It was a bit special, making my way at 15 years old, everything that happened back then and moving to Madrid. There were a lot of people around me who were worried that I was being looked at [by Real Madrid], the clubs and the people around me. I was constantly examined.

“I feel like I am in a good place. They [Arsenal] have given me peace and stability to establish myself somewhere and not be stressing about where I might be in the next transfer window.”

Martin Graham is an MFF sports writer

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