Martinelli overlooks Odegaard when naming Arsenal leader that doesn’t fill captain’s armband
- Norwegian star skippers Gunners
- Swiss star Xhaka used to have that role
- Brazilian sees key man driving team on
WHAT HAPPENED? The Brazilian forward has been in dazzling form for the Gunners this season, registering four goals and two assists, with the performances of others allowing him to flourish on the flanks. Club skipper Odegaard has continued to catch the eye, but Martinelli says Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka – who once had the armband taken off him in north London following a public blast at disgruntled supporters – has been the true driving force for Mikel Arteta’s side.
WHAT THEY SAID: Martinelli told The Athletic: “Granit always says very positive things - to keep going, to keep the ball and try to attack in behind. These kinds of things. He’s the guy who always leads us on the pitch.”
The South American has previously said: “Xhaka is an amazing lad. You see how much he dedicates himself to the team, how much he cares about the match and the players as well - he is definitely one of our leaders. Right after our first goal against Tottenham, he calls everybody into a huddle, asking us to stay calm and saying we will score more goals. That’s when you see how important he is to all players. For young players like me and Bukayo [Saka], it’s very important to have a team-mate like him.”
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Xhaka has enjoyed a remarkable reversal of fortune at Arsenal as he appeared to be destined for the exits at one stage, but is now a key figure in Arteta’s plans and up to 261 appearances for the Gunners.
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DID YOU KNOW? Arsenal have won eight of their nine Premier League games this season (L1) – only in 1903-04 (in the second tier) have they won as many as nine of their opening 10 games to a league campaign. Each of the last four sides to win as many as nine of their opening 10 games in a Premier League season have gone on to win the title (Chelsea in 2005-06, Man City in 2011-12 & 2017-18 and Liverpool in 2019-20).
WHAT NEXT FOR ARSENAL? The Gunners, who will be in Europa League action against Bodo/Glimt on Thursday, top the Premier League table at present and have a testing trip to Leeds ahead of them on Sunday.