Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard hand Mikel Arteta selection dilemma as North London Derby looms

By Aaron Catterson-Reid

Bukayo Saka has been a shining light during Mikel Arteta's indifferent spell as Arsenal boss.

The Hale End graduate has consistently performed in any position he is asked to, enjoying stints at fullback, central-midfield and most commonly on the wing.

Saka notched eight goals and 10 assists across all competitions last season, earning him Arsenal's Player of the Year award whilst also getting called up for England's Euro 2020 campaign, where he played a key role during The Three Lions's road to the final.

Despite his undeniable consistency and desire to drive at players, the 20-year-old's numbers in front of goal have dipped in the last few months, something that is understandable given the sheer amount of minutes he has played.

The talented youngster has registered no goals and just one assist in his last 17 Premier League games, something that will worry Arteta given how much the Spaniard relies on Saka's output, particularly when breaking down deep-lying defences.

Saka's dip in goal contributions has also coincided with Martin Odegaard's arrival at the Emirates Stadium.

Odegaard spent the last five months of the 2020/21 campaign on loan in north London before sealing a £29million transfer from Real Madrid last month.

And the Norway captain played alongside Saka in 11 of those 17 aforementioned league matches, with some Arsenal fans claiming that the two have not gelled together as of yet.

With the England international typically deployed on the right-wing during that time, it is possible that the main reason for this is because they both like to operate in the right half-space, often cutting in on their favoured left foot.

However, Arteta may have the perfect solution to solving the lack of compatibility between the two young stars.

Odegaard was deployed in a midfield three for his country during the international break, registering a whopping 12 key passes from deep as he dictated the game against Gibraltar in a 5-1 win.

Perhaps the 22-year-old could be utilised in a similar role during the Gunners' must-win clash against Norwich City on Saturday given Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka will mist out due to suspension.


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