Mikel Arteta insists Emile Smith Rowe and Martin Odegaard are capable of playing in the same Arsenal team

Martin Odegaard looks on in Arsenal training ahead of the the side's Premier League clash with Manchester United
Martin Odegaard completed a temporary move from Real Madrid to Arsenal this week (Picture: Getty)

Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta has allayed fears that Martin Odegaard’s arrival could mean a drop in minutes for Emile Smith Rowe and says ‘of course’ the two midfielders can play together in the same team.

Arteta has been keen to add a No.10 to their squad after missing out on Lyon’s Houssem Aouar in the summer transfer window and the Gunners reached a loan agreement with Real Madrid for Odegaard this week.

The 22-year-old Norwegian could make his debut at home to Manchester United this evening but faces a fight for selection, with the likes of Smith Rowe, Thomas Partey and Granit Xhaka impressing during Arsenal’s revival over the winter period.

Emile Smith Rowe runs with the ball during Arsenal's clash with Newcastle
Academy product Smith Rowe has shone in Arsenal’s first-team this season (Picture: Getty)

Speaking at his pre-match press conference, Arteta said Odegaard had to ‘earn’ his place in Arsenal’s starting XI, just as Smith Rowe did with a series of outstanding performances in the Europa League at the start of the campaign.

But the Spaniard is confident Odegaard and Smith Rowe could even play alongside each other despite suggestions their playing styles are too similar.

‘Emile cannot play every game as we knew. For example in the FA Cup the other day because he was injured and could not play,’ Arteta said.

‘The other day he could only play certain minutes because he struggling for the last minutes.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang looks on during Arsenal's clash with Newcastle
Arsenal captain Aubameyang will miss this evening’s clash with Manchester United (Picture: Getty)

‘It’s been a massive step for him from what he was doing three or four months ago and what he’s doing right now.

‘We need options, of course they can pay together.

‘It’s not about pushing somebody else, Emile has earned the right to play with the way he’s performing and Martin has to earn that.’

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is set to miss tonight’s match with United due to personal reasons and Arteta admitted Arsenal were a much ‘stronger’ outfit with their captain available.

Asked whether Arsenal have been over-reliant on the Gabon striker, Arteta replied: ‘That’s something that we had to improve and address dramatically.

‘If you want to have any chance of competing with the top teams in this league, just to rely on one player is completely insufficient and it won’t be sustainable over time.

‘But having said that, we know the importance of Auba with his goals and his contribution to the team so the more we have him, for sure the stronger we are as well.’

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