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Arsenal v Chelsea: ‘Criticism and negativity’ has motivated Gunners in Premier League, says Odegaard

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Arsenal wanted to “strike back” after “a lot was said” about the faltering Gunners’ Uefa Champions League exit at Bayern Munich, captain Martin Odegaard has said before the Premier League title contenders host Chelsea.

Having gone unbeaten in the top flight in 2024, Arsenal were knocked out of Europe 2-1 on aggregate courtesy of a 1-0 defeat in Germany, arriving three days after they had handed the domestic advantage to Manchester City with a 2-0 loss at home to Aston Villa.

“Having to deal with criticism and negativity is a part of football but you can use that as a motivation,” Odegaard pointed out in Arsenal’s programme for the first of their final five games of the campaign.

“A lot was said after we lost those two games last week. You try to shut it out but you can’t ignore it all, so also you need to use it to your own advantage and try to show how together we are.”

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Mikel Arteta’s side returned to the top of the table with a 2-0 win at Wolves on Sunday, Odegaard slotting in their second goal in the 95th minute after Leandro Trossard’s 45th-minute opener.

Reigning champions City still have matters in their hands because they are a point behind Arsenal with a game in hand, which will become four points with two extra matches if Chelsea lose at Emirates Stadium.

Chelsea ‘huge test’ for Arsenal

“We wanted to show our qualities at the weekend and going back to the top of the table is a good reminder that we are still doing well,” said Odegaard.

“We were all down after returning from Germany but we knew that we would go back on top with a win, so that was a massive motivation for us.

“We wanted to strike back, to make a statement that we are still here – that drove us on. We did brilliantly to do that because Wolves is a difficult place to get a result.

“To go away again, more travelling, and a quick turnaround – it was a tough challenge but we can be very proud of how we did it and the result we got.”

Chelsea are unbeaten in eight league matches, although they have drawn each of their last three on the road and lost 1-0 to Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-finals on Saturday.

“I don’t think their league position tells you much when you see how much quality they have in their squad,” said Odegaard, predicting a “huge test”.

“We saw again at the weekend that they can create chances in any game. They gave them a proper fight because they have individual quality all over the pitch.

“They have a lot of players who are good on transitions and players in good goalscoring form, so we have to be aware of that.”

Ben Miller
Ben Miller
Ben has more than 10 years' experience in sports journalism, covering two EURO tournaments, European club competitions, the Premier League, EFL and WSL and a variety of other major sporting events.

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