Martin Odegaard has revealed his record from the spot in pre-season convinced him to ask Bukayo Saka to take Arsenal’s key penalty in last night’s victory over Crystal Palace.
The Gunners were forced to dig deep in order to maintain their perfect start to the new Premier League campaign and ultimately owed their win to their captain’s coolness from 12 yards.
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Odegaard converted the penalty, sending Sam Johnstone the wrong way, after Nketiah had been felled by the Palace goalkeeper.
Saka took all of Arsenal’s Premier League penalties last campaign but infamously missed a decisive spot kick during the costly 2-2 draw at West Ham – which sparked his team’s collapse during the run-in.
The England international also fired wide in a pre-season friendly against Barcelona last month and although he was on target in the Community Shield win over Man City, Odegaard decided to pull rank at Selhurst Park after a string of his own successful conversions against Manchester United, Monaco and City.
‘We have been taking in pre-season a lot and I’ve scored all of mine so I just asked him (Saka) and he gave it to me, so I have to thank him for that one,’ said the Arsenal captain when asked why he took on the responsibility.
Manager Mikel Arteta, meanwhile, conceded he was surprised to see Saka pass on the penalty taking duties to Odegaard.
‘I have no clue, it’s about leadership of players, and if they felt it was the right thing to do, for me I’m fine.
‘They have to make those decisions on the pitch. I was surprised like everybody else, but he scored the goal which is the important thing and we won the game.’