Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has refused to be drawn on whether captain Martin Odegaard will return to the starting lineup for the Carabao Cup tie against West Ham.
The Norwegian international sat out the 5-0 win over Sheffield United at the weekend, with the club having confirmed that the midfielder is suffering from a hip problem. Arteta said he could have played Odegaard on Saturday but he felt that there was no need to take a risk on his fitness:
“We rested him the other day, so it’s how long we rest him for and how we manage the minutes and the rhythm that he needs to be at his best. We had the opportunity to [rest him] and we didn’t use him in the end.”
“It’s impossible to play with no niggles in football, and at this level, when you have games every three days, it’s impossible. If you try to do that, you better stay in bed, because I don’t know any players who are constantly perfect and in the best possible condition, so you have to adapt to that.”
It explains Odegaard’s dip in form
From the sound of things, it does seem as if the 24-year-old has been playing in recent weeks despite not being 100% fit. As Arteta says, due to the number of games that the team is playing, every player will pick up niggling injuries.
The question is whether Odegaard is being adversely affected by the hip injury he is carrying. If he is, it may be best to keep him on the sidelines so he can fully recover.
Arsenal have plenty of options if they need to replace Odegaard
Emile Smith Rowe and Kai Havertz (who both started against Sheffield United) can play in the no.10 role if required, while Fabio Vieira is another alternative that Arteta could consider.
Even though Odegaard is undoubtedly a key player, there really is no need to force him back into action too soon.