Martin Odegaard: Arsenal must stay calm, feed off fan energy as title goes down to wire

LONDON — Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard is relishing the Premier League title race and has urged his side to stay calm and feed of the energy of their fans as they enter the final two games of the season with incredible momentum.

The Gunners sit top of the table and have a one-point lead over Manchester City but City have a game in-hand over Arsenal, which is away at Arsenal's bitter rivals Tottenham on Tuesday, May 14.

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Arsenal brushed Bournemouth aside on Saturday thanks to a comfortable 3-0 win but during that game there was a spell at the start of the second half where the control of the game got away from Arsenal.

In the space of about 10 seconds Mikel Arteta was telling his players, and most of the crowd too, to calm down as he flapped his arms in a downward motion. Seconds later Odegaard was flapping his arms upwards to get the crowd going and to help lift the team out of a sluggish five-minute spell.

Pro Soccer Talk asked Odegaard about the importance of controlling emotions during their final two games and he smiled when recalling how he had riled up the crowd to get behind the team at a pivotal moment.

"I think it’s important to control the emotions and I think today the first half was brilliant. I think it should have been three of four nil. Second half was a bit more messy and a bit more chaotic," Odegaard explained. "We wanted to gain some more control in the game and I think the fans play an important role to get the momentum back. That is what we are always trying to do. To change the momentum and get it on our side. That is what we try to do."

Next up: Manchester United at Old Trafford

The momentum is with Arsenal ahead of their trip to Manchester United on Sunday, May 12. It is their final away game of the season and penultimate fixture as they aim to win the Premier League for the first time in 20 years.

They know it's not in their hands and Odgeaard issued a rallying cry to the fans: "Keep believing. Keep pushing us. We will push. We will do everything until the last day and see what happens."

Is Arsenal's game at Old Trafford more difficult because it's at such a huge stadium and against an illustrious team? Odegaard doesn't think so. That shows the maturity of this young Arsenal side who have drawn away at Liverpool and Manchester City and won at Tottenham this season, handling the big occasions extremely well.

"It is like any other game for us. I think we are used to playing big games. We’ve played in a lot of big stadiums. It’s a normal thing for us. We just got there with one goal and that is to get the three points. Like any other game to be honest with you," Odegaard said.

It is that calmness, which Odegaard exudes on and off the pitch, which has got Arsenal to this point.

They are less frantic this season compared to their failed title push last season. They are in control. They believe they will win their final two games and are hoping Manchester City slip up at least once against one of Fulham, Tottenham or West Ham in their remaining fixtures.

But Odegaard and Arsenal are at peace that whatever happens in the final two weeks of the season. They just have to take care of their own business.

"Again we just have to focus on ourselves. We don’t know what other teams will do but again we put in another good performance today and we keep putting pressure on the other teams and on Man City, of course. We just have to keep going," Odegaard added.

22 years ago Arsenal went to Old Trafford and won 1-0 to win the Premier League title as Sylvain Wiltord scored the winner in that famous gold away kit.

Arsenal can't seal the title with a win at Old Trafford on May 12. But a win keeps their title hopes alive.

"We’ve heard the stories and seen what happened there and how much it meant for the supporters and all this. It is something that is part of the clubs history and it is something we want to do again," Odegaard said when asked about the title win at Old Trafford in 2002. "We want to make the fans happy again and it has been a big goal for a long time, to win something. That is what we are pushing for every day and we are going to keep doing that until the end."