No other club in the Premier League gets as much criticism as Arsenal after every decision the club makes – on and off the pitch.
Back when we had won just four of our first 14 league games, pundits bemoaned Mikel Arteta’s reluctance to use Mesut Ozil. The Arsenal boss pushed the German out of the side, and he received a ton of criticism for it.
The Gunners lacked any sort of creativity in the side. It’s no wonder that we lost as many games as we did, but things completely changed after Christmas when Arteta handed Emile Smith Rowe a start in the Premier League.
The Englishman has been a breath of fresh air for Arsenal. He played a massive part in turning our season around, but pundits then started claiming that Arteta is overusing him and that might burn the youngster out.
The Gunners boss took that into consideration and brought in Martin Odegaard in January. Predictably, the pundits had another go at Arteta for bringing in someone who could block Smith Rowe’s progression.
Club icons Martin Keown and Tony Adams were the most vocal critics (Read here), but it is safe to say that Arteta and the two Arsenal attacking midfielders have proved all the doubters wrong by performing brilliantly together.
ESR and Odegaard can play together
Odegaard and Smith Rowe have started together four times in all competitions. Arsenal are unbeaten in those games, and the pair have complemented each other brilliantly – proving all the doubters wrong.
The duo’s best performance together came in the North London derby earlier this month.
Smith Rowe started on the left flank and had a stunning game. He registered four key passes and maintained a stunning passing accuracy of 97%. He was a constant threat along with Kieran Tierney and Spurs simply could not handle that.
Odegaard was just as good, if not better. The Norwegian, like Smith Rowe, maintained a brilliant 97% passing accuracy. He registered two key passes, completed 100% of his long balls and scored a hugely important goal.
That game showed that the bizarre narrative of Odegaard stunting Smith Rowe’s development was nothing but lazy analysis.
Mikel Arteta knew the pair could play together before he even signed Odegaard and it is safe to say that Smith Rowe and the Real Madrid man have silenced all the doubters with their phenomenal performances.