Bacary Sagna defends under-fire Arsenal star amid ‘crazy’ criticism

'He loves the club and has been a wonderful player since he joined.'

Bacary Sagna defends under-fire Arsenal star amid ‘crazy’ criticism
Manchester City v Arsenal FC - Premier League
Bacary Sagna made 284 appearances for Arsenal (Photo: Getty)

Former Arsenal star Bacary Sagna has defended the form of Martin Odegaard, saying that the club captain will overcome his underwhelming start to have a ‘huge impact this season’.

Odegaard was one of the best players in the Premier League last season as he lead his side to within a few points of the title, scoring 15 goals and making eight assists in the process.

His efforts saw him rewarded with a new long-term contract and the 24-year-old recently finished 28th in the Ballon d’Or rankings.

So far this campaign, he has recorded four goals and an assist in 14 appearances across all competitions, yet his performances haven’t been nearly as influential as before, with two of his strikes coming from the penalty spot.

Gunners icon Emmanuel Petit described the Norwegian’s performance in the draw at Chelsea as ‘his worst in an Arsenal shirt’, and moreover it appears that Mikel Arteta rarely trusts his skipper to play the full 90 minutes.

He has been subbed off in six of his 13 starts this season, and in the last campaign he was hauled off before full-time in the league 23 times.

But Sagna believes there is no reason to be concerned, telling Genting Casino: ‘This is the problem with football. Players will always be criticised and people will always have opinions [on players].

Sevilla FC v Arsenal FC: Group B - UEFA Champions League 2023/24
Martin Odegaard has scored just twice from open play this season (Photo: Getty)

‘It’s human nature to question why a player that has performed so brilliantly isn’t doing so well at any given moment, but if you looked at Odegaard’s last 100 games for Arsenal, you could say that in 95 of them he has been amazing. 

‘It is possible for a player to have a few bad games. At the moment, Odegaard isn’t playing his best football, but that is normal.

‘Look at what he has done throughout his time wearing the shirt. It’s crazy to be critical of Odegaard without considering his body of work when playing for Arsenal.’

The attacking midfielder was an unused substitute for Arsenal’s 5-0 win over the weekend as he was suffering from a minor hip issue, with Arteta suggesting that he will also miss Wednesday night’s Carabao Cup clash at West Ham.

‘He had a little rest against Sheffield United and the team won. Perhaps he isn’t at 100% in terms of his fitness. I don’t think it’s fair to be critical of Martin Odegaard this season,’ Sagna added.

‘Odegaard will have a huge impact on Arsenal this season. I was pleased to see him sign a new contract with the club and commit himself to the club for a long time. He loves the club and has been a wonderful player since he joined.’

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