Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta was full of praise for the impact Martin Odegaard has had on the team since being made captain last month.
The Norwegian midfielder was at the centre of Arsenal’s comeback victory against Fulham on Saturday, scoring the equaliser in the 2-1 win at Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners sit top of the embryonic Premier League table after winning their first four games of the season, with Odegaard scoring three goals already.
Speaking at a press conference ahead of Wednesday’s home game against Aston Villa, Arteta pointed to the fact the former Real Madrid man has plenty of senior experience despite only being 23.
“The thing is, at 23, he’s already had a lot of experience,” he said. “He’s already been exposed to a lot of pressure, especially individually, and obviously he’s played for Madrid, he knows what it’s about.
“But he does it in a natural way, it’s on him and obviously he’s developing that even more.”
When asked if he had seen a change in Odegaard since taking over the armband, Arteta replied: “More humble. Even more humble. It’s the way he is, more humble and more hungry. Good combination.”
After the disappointment of missing out on Champions League football as they finished fifth in the league last season, it has been an impressive start to the campaign from Arsenal, but Arteta is aware there is plenty that can still be improved in his team.
“The most pleasing thing obviously is the performances with the results,” he said. “The way we are playing, what we transmit as a team, and then obviously getting that into winning football matches, it’s the reason why we are here.
“The things to improve, there are still a lot. There is individually and collectively a lot still to do, and we know what it is.”
Arteta’s men host a struggling Villa side next, with Steven Gerrard’s team having lost three of their first four games of the season, including a 1-0 home defeat to West Ham on Sunday.
The Spanish coach will not underestimate the Villans, though, saying: “I was watching the other Premier League teams, how physical they are as well and every game here is a battle for everybody, and we don’t expect anything different [against Villa].
“Villa are a top team, they have a big squad, top quality players, a good manager and we expect a difficult game here again on Wednesday.”