‘I have felt at home since day one!’ – Odegaard expresses delight after opening Arsenal scoring account
Martin Odegaard expressed his delight after opening his goals coring account for Arsenal on Thursday, insisting he has “felt at home since the first day” of his loan spell at Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners ran out 3-1 winners against Olympiacos in the first leg of their round of 16 Europa League tie, with Odegaard, Gabriel and Mohamed Elneny grabbing the goals for Mikel Arteta’s side.
Odegaard’s stunning first-half strike capped an impressive all-round display from the Real Madrid loanee, who says he has settled into life at Emirates Stadium perfectly due to the healthy team spirit in the dressing room.
What’s been said?
“It is a big win for us, a great result with three goals away from home and win in this competition is always good,” Odegaard told BT Sport.
“The mentality in this team is great. Very pleased with everything. We showed the spirit in the team and the way we back each other. If one player makes a mistake then we react. That is what it is about, being a team. When one player makes a mistake you have to strike back as a team.
“I wanted to get a shot on goal, luckily I had a good hit and it went in. I have felt at home since the first day, I am happy to be here and feel great.
“It is just half time. We have to keep going. We have a big game on Saturday and then have to be ready for next Thursday.
“It is very important, we are not where we want to be in the league so this is very important for us and a chance to get Champions League football next year.”
How did Arsenal beat Olympiacos?
Arsenal were knocked out of the Europa League by Olympiacos last season, but produced a much-imporved team performance against the Greek side at the Karaiskaki Stadium this time around.
Odegaard gave the visitors the lead their pressure deserved in the 34th minute of the contest, firing home a fearsome effort from 25 yards out which beat Jose Sa all ends up in the Olympiacos net.
Unfortunately, the Gunners gifted the hosts a way back into the game just before the hour mark, with Youssef El-Arabi beating Bernd Leno from long range after pouncing on the German goalkeeper’s poor pass out from the back.
Arteta’s men were not to be denied though, as Gabriel restored their advantage in the 79th minute after rising majestically in the box to nod home a teasing Willian cross.
Elneny rounded off the scoring with a fearsome shot five minutes from time, and Arsenal will now have a healthy aggregate advantage to defend when Olympiacos arrive at the Emirates next week.
Before preparations for the second leg can begin, the Gunners will first have to turn their attention to a huge north London derby clash against Tottenham on Sunday.
Spurs are seventh in the Premier League standings at the moment, three positions above Arsenal, but Arteta’s men can move to within four points of their rivals with a victory at the Emirates.
‘We have to stop making errors’ – Arteta calls for improvement from Arsenal but vows to keep playing out from the back
Mikel Arteta admitted Arsenal “have to stop making errors” after their latest Europa League outing, but also insisted that they won’t stop playing out from the back.
The Gunners put one foot in the last eight of the continental competition by beating Olympiacos 3-1 at the Karaiskakis Stadium on Thursday night, thanks to goals from Martin Odegaard, Gabriel and Mohamed Elneny.
However, Arsenal only managed to gain their two-goal advantage after conceding a soft equaliser, with Youssef El-Arabi scoring after intercepting a lazy pass from Bernd Leno, and Arteta has warned his players that they cannot afford to keep making basic mistakes.
What’s been said?
The Spanish head coach told BT Sport after the final whistle: “We started the game really well, really dominant and creating a lot of chances.
“We gave them a goal trying to play out from the back but then we reacted well to score two more goals. Overall a really positive result but we have to stop making the errors that are costing goals because we cannot sustain that.
“It isn’t about concentration it is about when you play the ball. It is not about stopping the way we play because this is us.
“We were really solid, really dominant. We showed a lot of personality to come here and dominate like we did. The next thing is to do that for 90 minutes and give nothing to the opponent.
“This is half time and anything can happen. Full focus and we start 0-0 again in the second leg and try to win the game.”
Leno’s moment of madness
There initially appeared to be no danger when Gabriel played the ball back to Leno just outside his own box as Arsenal sought to keep possession early in the second half, but the German shot-stopper picked the wrong option when trying to kickstart another attack.
Leno just about found Dani Ceballos in the middle of the park with a weak pass, but he was being closely marked by two players, the closest of whom was El-Arabi, who was easily able to win the ball back and drive towards the penalty area.
The Arsenal no.1 was then unable to get back into position to stop El-Arabi’s subsequent shot, which nestled into the net and left the Gunners defence with their heads in their hands.