Forget De Bruyne and Fernandes – Martin Odegaard might be the Premier League’s best attacking midfielder

Martin Odegaard was immense against Burnley  (Arsenal FC/Getty)
Martin Odegaard was immense against Burnley (Arsenal FC/Getty)

The stats will tell you the only player worthy of entering the Premier League’s best attacking midfielder conversation alongside Kevin De Bruyne is Bruno Fernandes but, after another masterclass of metronomic supremacy to breathe more life into Arsenal’s title charge at Burnley, Martin Odegaard deserves his spot in the discussion.

Against a bewildered Burnley, Odegaard scored the first, played a sumptuous part in the second and supplied a sublime assist for Bukayo Saka’s game-clinching third as he controlled the game to his liking from start to finish. With a class you simply cannot teach, he led Arsenal to a fifth successive win to start a calendar year for the first time in their history, taking their aggregate score in their last two games, both away from home, to 11-0.

De Bruyne has unprecedented dynamism, while Fernandes possesses a radar for a pass the Ministry of Defence wouldn’t mind having in their possession. How Odegaard controls games eclipses both, all while leading by example as we enter a thrilling, three-way title race finale.

Saka will get the headlines for his double that took him to six goals in his last four games, after six in his previous 21 in all competitions, but at times, Burnley were not even playing the same sport as Odegaard, such was the gulf in class.

Even with so much of the season to go, many expected Arsenal to start falling away, with Manchester City entering that time of year where they go on 20-game winning streaks without getting out of second gear and Liverpool giving every inch of their being to present Jurgen Klopp with the perfect send-off. Instead, the Gunners have upped the ante.

Odegaard is the main protagonist in giving Arsenal that second wind. His finish with just four minutes on the clock in the driving Lancashire rain was pinpoint, leaving James Trafford with no chance.

Bukayo Saka celebrates scoring Arsenal’s third, set up by Odegaard (Reuters)
Bukayo Saka celebrates scoring Arsenal’s third, set up by Odegaard (Reuters)

The pass that brought about Arsenal’s second – a Saka penalty after Leandro Trossard was fouled in the penalty area – was even better, piercing through a limp Burnley backline like crepe paper. His role in the goal was not done there as he stepped up to take the spot-kick, only to hand the ball to Saka at the last minute, ensuring the young forward did not get any heat over his England penalty miss from home players and supporters. A true leader.

The player who has created the most chances from open play in the Premier League this season deserves more assists than he has accumulated this term but, in feeding in-form Saka with another pass in behind, when the simple option would have been to spread the play, for the third early in the second half, the Norwegian maestro had his sixth of the campaign.

Leandro Trossard sidefoots Arsenal’s fourth of the day (Arsenal FC/Getty)
Leandro Trossard sidefoots Arsenal’s fourth of the day (Arsenal FC/Getty)

Trossard missed several gilt-edged openings to absolutely put the game to bed before finally making one count to make it four, with Kai Havertz getting in on the act when adding a well-taken fifth late on.

In truth, had Arsenal put their chances away, we could have been talking double figures. There was barely anyone left in three-quarters of the ground at the end, supporters having headed home safe in the knowledge this Burnley side are only heading in one direction. After spending big in the summer to the tune of almost £100m, more than Sean Dyche got in his entire Turf Moor tenure, sooner or later Vincent Kompany is going to have to answer some difficult questions.

But in this mood, not many opponents could even get close to Odegaard’s influence on a game. De Bruyne and Fernandes certainly can’t.