Mikel Arteta names Arsenal star ‘vital’ to Premier League title push

Martin Odegaard playing for Arsenal

Martin Odegaard scored his seventh Premier League goal of the season on Wednesday (Picture: Getty Images)

Mikel Arteta heaped praise on his captain Martin Odegaard, saying the Norwegian is ‘vital to connect everything in the way we play’ as Arsenal returned to the top of the Premier League table.

The Gunners beat Luton 2-0 on Wednesday night with Odegaard opening the scoring, his seventh Premier League goal of the season.

Daiki Hashioka’s own goal completed the scoring and Arsenal are now one point ahead of Liverpool and top of the table.

The former Real Madrid player has been integral to the Arteta regime at the Emirates, starting 37 Premier League games last season and 27 so far this campaign.

The Spaniard says the 25-year-old is crucial to how the team works, praising him for setting ‘outstanding standards’ as side’s captain.

‘Yeah he’s a really important player,’ said Arteta. ‘We needed that balance. As well the chemistry that certain players have because that’s how they train and how we build those connections and relationships. Martin is vital to connect everything in the way we play.’

On Odegaard’s captaincy, Arteta added: ‘He’s made huge steps there. His presence, the way he behaves himself in front of the group and the standards that he sets are outstanding. He’s got a lot of players to support him and a lot to follow him.’

Mikel Arteta’s team returned to the top of the table after the win over Luton (Picture: Getty Images)

Odegaard had to step up on Wednesday in the absence of the likes of Bukayo Saka and Declan Rice from the starting XI against the Hatters.

Saka was not able to make the squad at all, with Arteta explaining: ‘He had to come off against Manchester City three days ago, he was feeling something.

‘He hasn’t been able to do everything that we needed to give him the chance to start the game. So we have decided not to play him.’

The England winger could be back as soon as Saturday for the trip to Brighton, with Arteta adding: ‘He was close but again he felt something in a very similar area against City and it was a very short turnaround.

‘Hopefully he’ll be able to train again and we can have him for the weekend.’

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