REVEALED: Real reason why Martin Odegaard missed Arsenal’s Europa League clash against Sporting Lisbon
Martin Ødegaard missed out on the squad as a precaution
Mikel Arteta made six changes for Arsenal’s Europa League match against Sporting Lisbon, with Martin Odegaard out due to illness.
While Arsenal’s priority remains their Premier League title challenge, Arteta named a fairly strong squad for Thursday’s trip to Sporting.
Matt Turner took over in goal for Aaron Ramsdale, while January signing Jakub Kiwior made his first appearance for the club.
Granit Xhaka captained the Gunners and started alongside Jorginho, Ben White, and Reiss Nelson, Arsenal’s hero against Bournemouth.
After being spotted in training earlier this week, it was speculated that star striker Gabriel Jesus could make his first appearance since the World Cup.
The Brazilian was supposed to travel to Portugal with his teammates, but instead stayed in London. Odegaard did travel, but he also missed out due to illness.
Arsenal reclaimed a five-point lead over Manchester City last weekend with a 3-2 comeback victory over Bournemouth.
The Gunners will resume their Premier League campaign against Fulham on Sunday, but first they must focus on a last-16 Europa League tie against Sporting.
‘I think Mikel Arteta has picked a really good team tonight,’ said Gunners legend Martin Keown in response to Arsenal’s team news. Even with the six changes, there is enough strength in there. They appear to be in good shape.’
Arsenal will face Sporting, who are fourth in Portugal’s Primeira Liga and defeated Tottenham in the Champions League group stage earlier this season.
Speaking ahead of the fixture, Arteta said: ‘It is our aim to win every competition. At a club like Arsenal, you have to strive for victory and give your all every day.
‘We made six changes because we had a lot of issues with players we missed. Some of them aren’t even here, but that’s why we’ve assembled such a strong team.’
‘Hopefully he will take the opportunity,’ Arteta said of Kiwior making his full Arsenal debut. He’s been training hard, and he’ll have to start soon. I have complete faith in him.’