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Martin Odegaard 'vital' to Arsenal's Premier League title chase - ESPN

Mikel Arteta believes Martin Odegaard's determination to avoid last season's late slump is playing a key role in Arsenal's attempt to win the Premier League title.

The Gunners returned to top spot on Wednesday night with a comfortable 2-0 win over Luton Town at Emirates Stadium as captain Odegaard scored his 10th goal of the season before Daiki Hashioka scored an own goal under pressure from Reiss Nelson.

— Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (U.S.)

Arteta made five changes to his starting lineup as Bukayo Saka missed out through injury and Declan Rice, Gabriel Jesus, Jorginho and Jakub Kiwior dropped to the bench, but Odegaard's leadership came to the fore as Arsenal extended their unbeaten domestic run to 10 matches in 2024.

The Arsenal coach said Odegaard's desire to right the wrongs of last season — when Arsenal led the table in April only to finish second behind Manchester City as they won just three of their final nine matches — was helping drive his team forward.

«Yeah a lot. He's made huge steps there,» Arteta said. «His presence, the way he behaves himself in front of the group and the standards that he sets are outstanding. He's got a lot of players to support him and a lot to follow him.

»He's a really important player. We needed that balance. As well the chemistry that certain players have because that's how they train and how we build those connections and relationships. Martin is vital to connect everything in the way we play."

Arteta confirmed Saka missed out due to a hamstring injury, which forced the winger out of Sunday's draw at City during the second half, but he could return when Arsenal travel to Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday evening.

«He was close [to playing against Luton], but he