Despite an opening day win over Crystal Palace, the Gunners still have some cracks to solve in their midfield as far as Rio Ferdinand is concerned.
The ‘heavy’ burden on the Arsenal captaincy could cause Martin Odegaard’s performances to suffer this season, according to Rio Ferdinand.
Odegaard enjoyed a winning start as captain last week when Arsenal defeated Crystal Palace 2-0. The midfielder pulled off some neat tricks, but his decision-making was a tad off. He also wasted a second-half goal opportunity at Selhurst Park by passing the ball to Gabriel Martinelli rather than shooting.
“I reckon you nailed it with Odegaard, I reckon that captain’s armband weighs heavy,” one of Ferdinand’s pundits said on his YouTube channel, referring to a conversation they had before filming.
Ferdinand replied: “Yep! Heavy! I said that in the group chat. It could be a different Odegaard this year.”
Xhaka and Partey another worry
But Ferdinand wasn’t done there, as he also expressed doubts over central midfielders Granit Xhaka and Thomas Partey.
“I just worry about your central midfield,” the former Manchester United defender continued to fellow pundit Joel Beya.
“Xhaka hasn’t shown that he can be relied upon for long periods consistently. Partey, is he going to be fit? Is he going to be there in that sense?”
Martinelli and an own goal from Palace’s Marc Guehi sealed all three points for the Gunners in their opening Premier League fixture.
But while not overly impressed by the team’s performance itself, Gabriel Jesus’ display caught Ferdinand’s eye.
“First half they were really good. Jesus was a joke. Jesus was unreal first half,” he said.
“I still want him to be much more of a number nine though. I don’t want him coming with his back to play because I want him to get goals – he’s in my Fantasy Football team!
“Arsenal in the first 25 minutes, I was thinking: ‘Woah! Arsenal look on it!’ And then Aaron Ramsdale was probably the catalyst for a bit of a nervy end to the half and then second half I was thinking: ‘Right this looks like Arsenal again’.
“All of a sudden, Palace are going to turn the screw. With the fans there, they’re going to get a result. But what I will say is they ground it out and got through it by hook or by crook. Palace could have had two or three goals. [Eberechi] Eze missed a one-v-one, [Odsonne] Edouard.”