Mikel Arteta explains Martin Odegaard substitution in Arsenal loss to Aston Villa | Football

Martin Odegaard was taken off against Aston Villa with the game goalless (Picture: Getty Images)

Mikel Arteta suggested there was an injury concern over Martin Odegaard, which was why the Arsenal captain was substituted during Sunday’s defeat to Aston Villa.

The Gunners saw their Premier League title hopes take a huge hit at Emirates Stadium, with Aston Villa leaving north London with a 2-0 win.

After Liverpool’s shock defeat at home to Crystal Palace earlier on Sunday, Manchester City are two points clear at the top and now runaway favourites to retain their title.

The two Villa goals came near the final whistle, with Leon Bailey scoring on 84 minutes and Ollie Watkins three minutes later, but Odegaard was on the pitch for neither of them.

With Arsenal needing a result, it was surprising to see the team’s captain hauled off on 79 minutes, but Arteta said the Norwegian had an ‘issue’ which led to his removal.

‘He had an issue, that’s why [he was taken off],’ Arteta told Sky Sports.

Asked again in the post-match press conference, Arteta said: ‘He was feeling something.’

Pushed on what the problem was, the Spaniard said: ‘He was feeling something. He could not continue.’

Arsenal FC v Aston Villa - Premier League

Odegaard was taken off on 79 minutes at The Emirates (Picture; Getty Images)

Arteta will be hoping his captain is available for the second leg of the Champions League quarter-final against Bayern Munich in Germany on Wednesday, with the tie poised at 2-2.

He wants his team to use the clash as the perfect chance to respond to Sunday’s disappointment and push on with a title challenge from there.

‘We can’t control [Manchester City]. What we can control is that when we have the run we had when you win, win, win, win, it’s easy. The moment is now. After this blow, it’s how we react,’ he said.

‘We have the best opportunity to react against Bayern Munich on Wednesday. The team has to show it. If you want to win, you have to overcome these situations.

‘With the games we had, this was going to happen. It is now about how we react. This is in our control.’

MORE : Mikel Arteta urges Arsenal players to ‘respond’ to Aston Villa defeat as Manchester City take lead in title race

MORE : Arsenal legend hits out at Mikel Arteta team selection and declares title chances ‘gone’

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