Arsenal

Ian Wright reckons Martin Odegaard is receiving brutal Bukayo Saka treatment at Arsenal

Martin Odegaard has endured a drop-off in productivity for Arsenal this season but Gunners icon Ian Wright believes there is a reason for that with Bukayo Saka having suffered the same fate Ian Wright believes Martin Odegaard’s stuttering Arsenal form is down to him being “targeted” by the opposition – just like Bukayo Saka.

The Norwegian playmaker was shining light for the Gunners last term as they pushed Manchester City for the Premier League title. He scored 15 goals and provided eight assists.

Odegaard hasn’t quite managed to hit the same heights this season after scoring just four goals – two of those coming from the penalty spot. His form has been better in the Champions League with two goals in just four outings.
Wright has taken a forensic look at the playmaker’s displays and believes he is now getting more rough treatment from opposing players. Speaking to Premier League Productions, he said: “What has happened is that teams are rightly targeting Odegaard because of how good he is for us and how integral he is in passing through the lines and keeping it moving for us.
Teams are making sure they are getting someone close to him or doubling up on him. What he has shown, and he has shown it recently, is if he has time and space, then he will hurt you.”

Rough treatment is not an alien experience for Mikel Arteta’s side. Odegaard’s teammate Saka experienced similar last term, which led to the Arsenal boss calling for more intervention from officials.
He said: “The referees have the duties to deal with that. The better the players become, the bigger target they become because people try and find ways to stop him. That is why football has very clear rules, what you can do and what you cannot do, and that is the referees’ job.”
Asked if his side could do anything to help Saka, Arteta added: “We can do. Sometimes the type of ball we give him and when we give him certain balls [could be better].

“You can see at a certain point it becomes about the timing, the decision-making, in the space you have generated before that action, and the understanding and knowledge of what is going to happen before it happens.”
Meanwhile, Wright also called on referees to provide Saka with more protection. He said: “We’ve got to talk about Saka. The man is getting kicked to bits, man. He’s getting kicked to bits. We need to start protecting these players.”
Following Arsenal’s trip to Kenilworth Road to Luton, they are quickly back in action this weekend. They face a testing away clash with Aston Villa before their final Champions League group game against PSV. The Gunners’ trip to Villa Park will see them reunited with former boss Unai Emery.

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