Martin Odegaard explains why he took Arsenal penalty instead of Bukayo Saka against Crystal Palace

22 August 2023 - 12:02 pm

Martin Odegaard revealed his record from the spot in pre-season convinced him to ask Bukayo Saka to take Arsenal’s decisive penalty in last night’s win over Crystal Palace.

The Gunners were forced to dig deep in order to maintain their 100% start to the new Premier League season and ultimately owed their victory to their captain’s coolness from 12 yards.

Odegaard converted the 53rd minute penalty, sending Sam Johnstone the wrong way, after Eddie Nketiah had been felled by the Palace goalkeeper.

Saka took all of Arsenal’s Premier League penalties last season but infamously missed a crucial spot kick during the costly 2-2 draw at West Ham – which sparked his side’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 victory over Manchester City, Odegaard decided to pull rank at Selhurst Park following a string of his own successful conversions against the likes of 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 skipper when asked why he took on the responsibility.

Manager Mikel Arteta, meanwhile, admitted 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.’