The Gunners have become the Premier League’s most effective team from offensive corners and free-kicks, with set-piece coach Nicolas Jover’s schemes resulting in 12 goals this season – more than any other side in the division.
Set-pieces actually account for just over 28 per cent of Arsenal’s total goals this season and they bagged two more against Crystal Palace at the weekend, with a pair of well-worked corners powered home by centre-back Gabriel Magalhaes.
Although Jover barks order from the touchline, he has previously intimated that the signals over which routine to use come from the players themselves – and it appears Odegaard may hold the key.
Match of the Day presenter Alex Scott revealed on Saturday’s show that the pundits had been ‘playing detective’, with Ashley Williams convinced that Odegaard’s behaviour on the edge of the box – sometimes rolling up his socks, sometimes kicking the turf – was acting as a signal to his team-mates.
‘There’s always a trigger for what the movement’s going to be,’ explained Williams. ‘We can see they have worked on whether it’s a front-post corner or a back-post corner.
‘If you keep an eye on Odegaard, we feel – maybe we’ve had too much time on our hands – but we feel that maybe he’s signalling something to the corner taker.
‘He’s in the same place for every corner and he’s playing with his socks. When we’re looking for a trigger it’s because it’s worked on.
‘They’re in synchronicity, they’re either going to the front [post] or the back.
‘Every clip we see here he is doing the same thing where he’s playing with his socks. It might be coincidence, yes.
‘This one is interesting because this one is actually a front-post corner and he kind of does a different thing with his socks.
‘So I understand we might be reaching for something that’s not there, but it is a big coincidence if he’s always there and always doing something with his socks.
‘I think Nicolas Jover has said they have signals on which corner they’re doing so we have been trying to have a look. He has alluded that it’s somebody on the edge of the box and we’ve seen Odegaard.’
Fellow pundit Alan Shearer, though, was rather more sceptical of the theory, quipping: ‘Maybe his sock were a bit too big for him!’
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