Arsenal

Why Alexandre Lacazette shouted at Granit Xhaka as Arsenal continue top-four push

Captain material

Martin Ødegaard possesses all the qualities to become Arsenal’s next captain and he proved it once again at Villa Park.

Ødegaard’s Norway manager Stale Solbakken recently revealed that he believes the former Real Madrid midfielder will eventually inherit the armband from Alexandre Lacazette.

It’s expected that Lacazette will leave the Gunners when his contract expires in the summer, with talks planned between the club and his representatives when the season ends.

But the Gunners can take some solace in the fact that they have a ready-made leader ready to take over the captain’s armband in due course.

During the first half, Ødegaard was seen being vocal on several occasions. In one instance he bellowed across the instructions ‘stay there!’ to Emile Smith Rowe when Villa won a throw-in in the first half and the England international was close to being dragged out of position.

Those small examples of leadership and marshalling his teammates shows why Ødegaard is the perfect player to orchestrate the Gunners in midfield and as captain.

Starboy Saka

The season just gets better and better for Bukayo Saka. Arsenal and England’s Starboy continues to live up to his nickname by producing the goods on the pitch.

Saka’s goal against Villa was evidence of why Arsenal’s top priority this summer is to tie the youngster down to a new long-term contract.

He has scored five goals in his last five Premier League away games and it also marked Arsenal’s 2000th goal in the league.

Statisticians will certainly appreciate those numbers but it is what Saka represents, as an icon and role model for both club and country, which make him such a force to be reckoned with.

Why Lacazette shouted at Xhaka

Alexandre Lacazette certainly didn’t have one of his better games against Aston Villa.

Whilst his lack of goals this season continues to be compensated by his ability to bring teammates into play and create opportunities, there can be no doubting the Frenchman’s importance to the team.

Indeed, it is his vast top-flight experience and leadership qualities that make Lacazette such an integral part of Mikel Arteta’s team and he showcased those traits in the first half when Granit Xhaka ended up in a tangle with Emi Buendia.

Xhaka’s aggression has on occasion seen him penalised over the years, and Lacazette was quick to tell his Swiss international teammate to come back after he walked away from the referee who was about to show him a yellow card.

The discussion between the Arsenal duo continued minutes later as Xhaka clearly felt he was unfairly penalised once again.

In the end it proved to be a perfect day on the pitch for the Gunners, as Arteta’s side continue their rise up table as their search for a Champions League spot goes at full tilt.