Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has insisted Martin Odegaard was benched for Saturday’s 5-0 victory over Sheffield United because of a minor fitness concern.
The club captain has been criticised in recent weeks for his lacklustre form, with Odegaard struggling to showcase his best despite some positive results for the team.
Understandably, Odegaard’s omission from Saturday’s starting lineup generated plenty of speculation but Arteta has now moved to assure fans there is nothing to worry about.
“We went through all the minutes that everyone has played,” Arteta said after the game. “Martin has been carrying a little thing that wasn’t very comfortable in the games.
“We have players that have enormous quality and we have to trust in them.”
In Odegaard’s place in midfield, Kai Havertz started alongside Emile Smith Rowe, who made his first Premier League start since May 2022.
Smith Rowe grabbed the assist for Arsenal‘s third goal of the afternoon before being replaced by Fabio Vieira, who scored a late penalty before Takehiro Tomiyasu’s stoppage-time fifth.
“We had an emotional week, travelling to two very tough away games and today was a different context,” Arteta reflected on the game.
“Sheffield United are fighting for their lives, they are organised and the big teams have struggled to beat them.
“We had to be patient but as well we had to do things better than the first 10-25 minutes. We had to attack them better and play the game where we wanted.”