Mikel Arteta explains his big call to BENCH Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard for clash vs Sheffield United

Gabriel Magalhaes was also benched.

Mikel Arteta explains his big call to BENCH Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard for clash vs Sheffield United
Chelsea FC v Arsenal FC - Premier League
Martin Odegaard’s performances have come under scrutiny this season (Picture: Getty)

Mikel Arteta has explained his big decision to place Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard on the bench for Arsenal’s Premier League clash against Sheffield United on Saturday.

Gunners centre-back Gabriel Magalhaes was also a surprise substitute with Jakub Kiwior coming into Arsenal’s defence instead.

Odegaard’s performances have come under scrutiny this season and on Friday Arteta was forced to answer why the Norway international has not been finishing matches in recent weeks.

But he has now been dropped to the bench with Emile Smith Rowe handed a first Premier League start since a 2-0 loss to Newcastle in May 2022.

‘We had to refresh [the team],’ Arteta said about his various line-up changes. ‘We have played so many games.

‘Internationals… six games in a row, 90 minutes, in a period of 20 days. We had to rotate.

‘We needed energy. We needed to be really alive and sharp today and in order to do that, we had to shift the team.’

Arteta made a total of four changes from the team that drew 2-2 at Chelsea last time out in the Premier League, with Jorginho and the injured Gabriel Jesus replaced by Kai Havertz and Eddie Nketiah respectively.

David Raya continued in goal ahead of Aaron Ramsdale while Arteta handed the captain’s armband to Bukayo Saka in Odegaard’s absence.

Asked about Saka’s leadership qualities, given that he is only 22-years-old, Arteta added: ‘The role that he has at the club, where he came from our academy and the values that he transmits. He is surrounded by a lot of senior players.’

More to follow…