There was a bizarre narrative when Martin Odegaard joined Arsenal on loan, that his arrival would stunt the development of Emile Smith Rowe. The 20-year-old Englishman has a littered injury past and his versatility made it a puzzling and lazy assessment of the transfer. Arsenal had a severe deficiency in attacking technical quality in their midfield before the emergence of Smith Rowe and arrival of Odegaard and with the duo now thriving in tandem, the doubters of Odegaard’s loan deal must be starting to eat their words.
The game against Tottenham was the perfect example of this. In a game where Bukayo Saka was not at his best and needed some rest, Arsenal no longer had to rely on Bukayo for all of their inspiration. Instead Odegaard and Smith Rowe stood forward.
Smith Rowe excelled on the left hand side, with Tierney overlapping, the youngster completed a stunning 4 key passes in the game with a 97.3% pass accuracy on all his passes.
It was in this game where the slight differences between the two players were really evident.
Odegaard completed 3/3 long balls whilst Smith Rowe did not attempt any. Smith Rowe completed 2 dribbles and Martin 0. Smith Rowe suits the wide playmaker role due to his instinctive style to burst past players and play short passes to connect the team. Odegaard’s more suited to be in the heart of the pitch as his range of passing is bigger and his ability to play an eye of the needle pass is higher.
What was really great to see is the goal threat both players offered. Odegaard’s deflected shot made its way into the goal for his second of the week and Smith Rowe was very unlucky not to see his 20-yard powerful strike cannon off of the bar. Arsenal have been too reliant on goals from Aubameyang and inspiration from Saka in recent months and now the attacking burden is being shared.
Both players offered Arsenal a huge amount of technical security in the final third. Whilst Smith Rowe completed 97.3% of his passes and made 37, Odegaard stunningly completed 58 passes with a 96.6% rate. The duo had the highest % rates on the pitch. What’s even more impressive is Odegaard completed 28/30 attacking third passes. Nobody else managed more than 17 in the game (Smith Rowe and Tierney).
Smith Rowe and Odegaard both offered excellent workrate too with 6 and 5 ball recoveries in the game respectively. Odegaard also made 3 tackles.
If Arsenal manage to sign Odegaard permanently, then the young attacking trio of Smith Rowe, Odegaard and Saka could be a brilliant platform to build upon.