With the dust settling on another weekend to forget, Arsenal had few positives to draw from their 1-0 loss to Aston Villa in the Premier League. It extends the run to three matches without victory, and sees them lose further ground on their already slim European ambitions.
Chasing the game from the second minute onwards, Mikel Arteta threw caution to the wind in the second half. Willian, Pierre-Emerick Aubamayeng and Martin Odegaard all came on in search of a route back into the match, with only one making a telling contribution.
The winter loan signing from Real Madrid made his first meaningful impression since arriving on a six-month deal, having up until that point only played seven minutes of Premier League football.
Coming on for Cedric Soares in the 65th minute, the Norwegian saw plenty of the ball in central areas as he attempted to move Arsenal up a gear, and while he was only on the pitch with Thomas Partey for ten of those minutes, he made an impression.
Thomas Partey gives his verdict of new Arsenal signing Martin Odegaard
"“I remember when we played against him, he is so intelligent, he is always quick on the ball, he doesn’t give you the chance to take the ball from him, so it’s amazing to have him here,” Partey said of Odegaard on Stadium Astro.“I hope he has a great season, and he is able to help us to achieve what we want to achieve.”"
Partey was of course speaking in reference to the midfielder in general and not about his cameo on Saturday, although it’s clear even in training he’s slotted in well.
Adding another dimension in the centre of the park with his left foot, Emile Smith Rowe moved out to the right and Odegaard was granted freedom to create the triangles the 20-year-old would usually create on either flank.
Notable from his performance was his superb weight of pass. An undervalued trait, the speed and precision of his distribution not only finds its target in dangerous areas, but also lures the opposition into a false sense of security. Believing they can snatch possession away, they’re fooled by the trajectory of the pass and are drawn out of position. Odegaard did so on a couple of occasions.
Early signs are all supporters were treated to at Villa Park, the like that while unable to change the outlook of the game, bodes well for the rest of the season. Needs some shooting practice, however.