Martin Keown has claimed in his Daily Mail column that Mikel Arteta needs to consider dropping Martin Odegaard when picking his strongest side – preferring the likes of Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith-Rowe in attack.
The Gunners suffered a 1-0 defeat to Manchester City on Sunday afternoon as Arteta combined Aubameyang and Saka with Odegaard and Nicolas Pepe. The Gunners struggled to carve out any openings, and City won at a canter.
Arsenal have entered a critical stage of the season. By the end of Monday night, they could sit in 11th place in the Premier League and with 13 left to play – they need to get a run of wins together to challenge for Europe.
They must do that, but also contend with playing in Europe – as they face Benfica on Thursday. Arsenal legend Keown, though, thinks he knows what Arsenal’s best four-man attack is – and it does not include Odegaard.
The front four who finished this game are his best combination and they need to be starting matches. I’d like to see Aubameyang on the left, Alexandre Lacazette central, Saka on the right and Smith Rowe in behind,” Keown said.
TBR’s view – Odegaard steady, needs to take risks
Having now played five times for Arsenal, three of which have come from the start, it is much easier to judge Odegaard – especially in an Arsenal shirt. So far, it has been a steady, no-risks-taken start. That needs to change.
Emile Smith-Rowe has broken into the side because he is trying to make things happen – and as a consequence, has eight goal involvements in just 17 games. Scoring two, Smith-Rowe has also laid on six assists.
Odegaard is yet to score or assist in his five outings, even against a very open Leeds side. More incisive passing, and more efforts on goal is the order of the day for 22-year-old Odegaard.