Soccer - Odegaard leading young Arsenal team by example, says Arteta

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Premier League - Burnley v Arsenal - Turf Moor, Burnley, Britain - September 18, 2021 Arsenal's Martin Odegaard celebrates scoring their first goal Action Images via Reuters/Craig Brough

(Reuters) - Arsenal midfielder Martin Odegaard has settled in nicely at the Premier League club and his performances on the pitch have shown he is leading by example in both attack and defence, manager Mikel Arteta said on Tuesday.

Odegaard's 30th-minute free kick earned Arsenal their second league win season with a 1-0 victory over Burnley. Arteta was impressed with how the 22-year-old Norwegian demanded the ball and also how he pressed the opponents to win it back.

"I think we are building some leadership in the group. It's a really young group, with a lot of players under 23. Martin is the captain of the national team," Arteta told reporters.

"Martin has this capacity to do that with his talent, taking the ball in moments where others probably refuse to, but as well with his attitude, his rhythm and the way he presses and puts people under pressure.

"He's probably the first to (defend). I was really impressed with (striker Pierre-Emerick) Aubameyang as well -- I think his rhythm and high pressing was fantastic. It was a real commitment and purpose."

Arsenal play third-tier side AFC Wimbledon in the League Cup on Wednesday and Arteta was wary about the League One side who have been involved in some high-scoring encounters in recent games.

"I hope that we can expect goals from our side but it's true that they've been really open games with high scores," Arteta said.

"They are really direct, physical but at the same time they have a big goal threat in many situations, so it will be a tough opponent."

Arteta was also pleased to see the fans backing the team after a miserable start where Arsenal were bottom of the league standings, saying they needed the support as they build up to Sunday's north London derby against Tottenham Hotspur.

"The boys are really looking forward to playing at the Emirates (Stadium) again in the cup," he added. "Winning that game is the only priority right now and then we can think about Spurs and how special that is as well.

"After the difficult start that we had in many different aspects, when you start to win two games, you can win the third one. You get more momentum, more confidence, everybody's back and then you start to create a different feeling."

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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