Arsenal have been given a new lease of life since the restart of the Premier League after the international break, with back-to-back wins helping to lift the Gunners from the foot of the table having lost all of their opening three games of the season.
A major reason for the shift in results has been the creativity of Martin Odegaard, with the former Real Madrid man looking settled in north London after completing his permanent move to the club.
The Norway international scored the only goal in Arsenal’s latest Premier League victory away at Burnley, and he linked up well with one of the Gunners’ other bright sparks this season, Emile Smith Rowe.
And this is why it is imperative that Mikel Arteta includes both of these players in his starting XI for this weekend’s north London derby.
Tottenham have averaged 44% possession in their games so far this season compared to Arsenal’s 51%, meaning it’s likely Arteta’s side will be able to dominate the ball.
Having Odegaard and Smith Rowe in the team will give Arsenal some much-needed creativity as they look to break down the rigid system Nuno Espírito Santo is likely to play with Spurs being away from home.
Spurs don’t tend to set up with a player occupying the number ten position, with Harry Kane often dropping deep to fill the role. This means Thomas Partey should be able to play as a lone anchor and that will allow both Odegaard and Smith Rowe to flood forward.
And if Spurs spring a surprise and a change in formation is needed, Odegaard was excellent when tasked with dropping back into a midfielder pivot alongside Partey against Burnley, so Arteta could easily shift his system during the game if it’s required.
Odegaard has enjoyed his previous meetings with Spurs having notched his first goal at the Emirates Stadium against Arsenal’s rivals last season.
Interestingly, both Smith Rowe and Odegaard started in that game as Arsenal secured their first north London derby win in over two years.
Smith Rowe got his first goal of the season in the Carabao Cup win over AFC Wimbledon recently and so should be full of confidence ahead of the meeting with Tottenham.
If Arteta wants to build on the Gunners’ solid recent form, then starting both Odegaard and Smith Rowe on Sunday could be key to their success.
Would you start Smith Rowe and Odegaard on Sunday? Follow The Arsenal Way writer Bailey Keogh on Twitter to get involved in the discussion and give us your thoughts in the comments section below.
Source by Football London