Richards disagrees with Neville verdict on Arsenal star and highlights ‘leadership’ qualities

Ben Stewart
Arsenal's Martin Odegaard, right, celebrates with Bukayo Saka after scoring the opening goal during an English Premier League soccer match between Newcastle and Arsenal at St James' Park stadium in Newcastle

Arsenal made it back-to-back wins in the Premier League at the weekend and Micah Richards was left impressed with Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard.

The 23-year-old has been in fine form recently and he was on the scoresheet once again with a fine strike against Newcastle.

A few pundits have questioned Odegaard’s leadership qualities in the second half of the season, but Richards has drawn a comparison to David Silva.

“He reminds me of David Silva in so many ways, with his quiet authority and leadership,” Richards wrote in his Daily Mail column.

“You wouldn’t know David was in a room sometimes, but on the pitch he made you follow him through his brilliance and that is what Odegaard is doing — 15 goals from midfield (and not one penalty) is just exceptional.

“There was a time when, to be a captain, you needed to have the loudest voice and the biggest personality but that has all changed. Steven Gerrard at England didn’t scream and shout but you watched him at close range and couldn’t help but be inspired.

“Arsenal’s business in getting Odegaard on loan, restoring his confidence and then buying him outright was a masterstroke. He’s going to get even better.”

The Arsenal captain has now scored 15 league goals for the season and has also produced seven assists in that time.

Despite his impressive performances this year, Gary Neville has remained unconvinced over his leadership qualities.

Last week Neville doubled down on his viewpoint of Odegaard and stated that he was amongst Arsenal’s senior players to struggle with the run in.

“Speaking on The Overlap, Neville said: “I look at Martin Odegaard, fantastic professional. Oleksandr Zinchenko, great professional. But when you actually get to the highest pressurised moments in the biggest matches in the crux of the season, are they leaders then?

“Arsenal’s senior players, Partey, Zinchenko, Odegaard, in the most difficult period – when those younger players like Saka and Martinelli needed that guidance, Jesus needed telling to stop running around and just stand up front and be really disciplined in how you play – they didn’t impact the rest of their teammates on the pitch, I don’t believe. In fact, they contributed to the difficulties they were having in the matches.

“Xhaka at Anfield [referring to the incident with Trent Alexander-Arnold ], Partey’s performances in the last few games, I think Zinchenko gave a goal away in one game as well – the Liverpool game and maybe West Ham as well – and Odegaard had probably his most difficult game as well against Manchester City.

“And then if you think of the huddle that Zinchenko did [against Southampton ] and then Odegaard came over and said, ‘Break up’. So those four players that are the leaders in that team have not been able – at the moment those younger players needed it – to really pull them together and keep them calm and composed. That to me has been apparent these last few weeks.”

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