- Gunners faced Leicester at the King Power
- Norwegian star did not lead the team out
- Mark of respect to those in Ukraine
WHAT HAPPENED? The Gunners agreed to let their Ukraine international lead them out onto the field at the King Power Stadium as a collective show of support to the people in his homeland. The first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been reached, with Odegaard and Co. determining that Zinchenko should be allowed to take on a more prominent role for the Premier League leaders as another mark of respect.
WHAT THEY SAID: Odegaard, who was appointed club captain at Emirates Stadium in the summer of 2022, explained: “I spoke to some people in the club and then I went to Mikel and suggested it for him. It was a nice thing to do to show him the support. It’s been a year now, too long, it’s a very difficult situation for him I know and very emotional. It was a good thing to do to show our support. I spoke to him, asked if he was comfortable doing it.
“When he’s on the pitch he’s always 100 percent focused and always there. He doesn’t let him affect him but of course it’s not an easy thing for him, his family and everyone there. We just wanted to show him the support. We did a lot of the normal things, he always speaks before the games, I speak, others speak. It was the same today, before the game he said some words.”
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Zinchenko completed 93 minutes for Arsenal – before being replaced late on - as they cemented their standing at the top of the Premier League table with a 1-0 victory at Leicester. Gabriel Martinelli grabbed the only goal of the game for Mikel Arteta’s side in the first minute of the second half.
IN TWO PHOTOS:Getty
WHAT NEXT? Arsenal, who are looking to land their first top-flight title since the fabled ‘Invincibles’ of 2003-04, will be back in action on Wednesday when playing host to relegation-threatened Everton.