Martin Odegaard has revealed what Mikel Arteta said to him before handing him the Arsenal captaincy.
The captain’s armband has been an area of controversy at the Emirates ever since Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was stripped of the role back in December after a ‘disciplinary breach‘.
Alexandre Lacazette took over the duties as club skipper despite not being officially named as captain when the Frenchman has not been involved there has been occasional moments of confusion.
One such example was when Eddie Nketiah was forced to briefly wear the armband after Lacazette was substituted during the 2-1 victory over Brentford as Granit Xhaka appeared to refuse it, only for football.
London to later reveal that Kieran Tierney was instead the intended recipient.
Since Lacazette has been replaced in the starting XI by Nketiah five games ago, the role has been filled by Odegaard.
The Norwegian has established himself as a leader in the Gunners dressing room, and speaking after Sunday’s 2-1 victory over Leeds, he hailed his side’s ability to win when under pressure.
Arsenal raced into an early lead thanks to two goals in the opening 10 minutes by Nketiah and appeared to be coasting when Luke Ayling was dismissed before the half hour mark.
A second half header from Diego Llorente set up a nervy finish for the Gunners, but Odegaard admitted results are the only thing that matters at this stage of the season.
“That’s all that matters taking the three points,” the Norwegian said.
“We have to win in different ways. Last time was not our best game, but we won. Today I think we played really good in some parts and other parts we had to fight. But we get the three points and that’s the most important thing so we’re happy.”
Having led Arsenal in one of their most tense periods of the season, many are backing Odegaard to take over as captain on a permanent basis next season.
Lacazette is expected to leave in the summer when his contract expires meaning there is something of a power vacuum in the Gunners dressing room.
Arteta has appeared to trust the Norwegian for much of the campaign, but the 23-year-old revealed that the moment he received the armband was actually slightly unremarkable.
“No he just told me before the first game against Southampton that I was gonna wear it and that was all,” Odegaard said.
The hope will now be that he can captain Arsenal to a famous victory at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Thursday.
If the Gunners secure victory in the North London Derby away from home for the first time since 2014 then they will secure Champions League qualification.
Odegaard is confident his side can pull off the achievement, and highlighted their unity as a reason for this.
“Yeah, we have a young team but I think with the young players we have we have a lot of experience as well,” he said.
“We’ve been through a lot and we just enjoy playing football together and you can see that on the pitch. We enjoy it.”