Arsenal legend Perry Groves believes Martin Odegaard is finally playing his best football under Mikel Arteta in the No.10 role.
The Norwegian has endured mixed fortunes since joining the Gunners but this season has played a key role in Arsenal’s upturn and how Arteta wants his team to play.
Odegaard has netted four goals and provided three assists in the league this season and with Pierre-Emerick Auabameyang exiled from the team, the likes of Alexandre Lacazette, Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli have all stepped up.
Groves, who spent six years at Arsenal from 1986, believes Lacazette is helping to get the best out of Odegaard and any doubts about the 23-year-old failing to assert his dominance in matches are now being put to bed.
‘I was actually worried about Odegaard at first because you could tell he’s an unbelievably talented boy at first, but he wasn’t dominating games,’ Groves told talkSPORT.
‘We used to watch [Mesut] Ozil and he used to frustrate at times. We wanted him to go and take the game by the scruff of the neck and be dominant in that No.10 position
‘Odegaard is just starting to make that role his own, he’s grabbing goals and assists and with Lacazette it’s giving him that physical presence and a base to play from and he’s got pace from [Bukayo] Saka and [Gabriel] Martinelli on both sides with him.’
Arsenal’s 5-0 win over Norwich on Boxing Day saw them consolidate their fourth-placed position in the Premier League table.
For some, the Gunners are still outsiders to finish in the top four come the end of the season and Groves feels Ralf Rangnick’s Manchester United will be their main challenge.
‘They need help,’ Groves added. ‘I’ve watched them in games and when there’s a period in games that’s not going your way, when you’re under the cosh, you’ve got to be able to get through that period.
‘It’s a ten, 15 minute period where you knuckle down when you don’t concede.
‘Watching Arsenal play when we do go through that period in games, it looks like we’re going to concede.