Martin Odegaard says he always believed Arsenal had the potential to qualify for the Champions League this season and with the objective now within their grasp it’s time to “finish the job.”
Like the team, the Norway international has grown in stature with each passing month of the campaign.
Understated but clearly driven and resilient, he’s grown to become Arteta’s eyes and ears on the pitch and even looks a natural wearing the captain’s armband despite being only 23.
Tasked with facing the media ahead of the north London derby – a match that could seal Arsenal a top-four finish – Odegaard’s tone was typically matter-of-fact.
“When I signed I said I really believed in the team, I really believed in the project from the manager, and everything the club wanted to do. So I believe we had the chance to do it.
“Maybe we’re a bit ahead of schedule, but still we haven’t done anything. We have to finish it and get into the top four, so that’s the focus now and I think we’re doing well.”
“It will be a big game of course,”” he said of Thursday’s trip to White Hart Lane.
“We know what we’re playing for and we know the history of these games and how big it is for the fans. It’s going to be a massive game, so we’re looking forward to it.
“I think [the team is ready] but we have to show it in the last games and finish the job. We have to make sure we finish top four, and if we do that then we deserve it.
“I think we’re ready for it and we have to fight for it, so we’ll see.”
Watching from afar will be ex-Gunner Cesc Fabregas. One of Odegaard’s heroes growing up, the Spaniard recently referred to the Norwegian, alongside Bukayo Saka, as “Arsenal’s present and future”.
“It’s cool that he’s following me,” was the response from Odegaard.
Fabregas has also had his say on the importance of the Gunners getting back into Uefa’s premier competition.
“If they can get Champions League football it would be a fantastic achievement,” he told London World.
“They’ll be able to attract better players, they’ll receive a lot of money which is important.
He added: “Every team needs a process to become a top side. We [my old Arsenal teams] had the same problem.
“We were challenging for the title until February, March most of the time, and then for whatever reason: injuries, lack of experience, sometimes not knowing how to manage games and being too nice, too offensive at times…these things happen.
“What I like about this team is that if they keep going the way they are and they stay together for a few more years, this can be a great generation for Arsenal.”