Spare a thought for the police and emergency services priming themselves for the biggest night of the year.
Across the United Kingdom, millions of people are donning their finest garms and necking a bottle of Echo Falls in preparation for New Year’s Eve and the celebration of surviving another year on our decaying planet.
While many wise people have pinpointed December 31 as the most underwhelming night of the year, others will indulge in endorphin-boosting substances to mark the beginning of 2023.
And, to make it worse, the police are already stretched after being called to the South Coast to investigate the most audacious mugging in living memory.
The perpetrator was a young Norweigan by the name of Martin Odegaard, proud captain of the Premier League leaders and enjoying the best season of his career.
Odegaard was on the recieving end of praise from Arsene Wenger recently, who said: “I was worried for Martin [at Real Madrid]. I thought he lost some of his creative attitude. The creativeness stagnated.
“After he came to Arsenal he has regained his creativity. He plays fantastically well and masters every aspect of the game.”
And, on the evidence of this 4-2 victory at Brighton, Odegaard has mastered the art of making opposition defenders look very silly indeed.
The 24-year-old combined with Gabriel Martinelli and Oleksandr Zinchenko in a free-jazz interpretation of foreplay to tease an opening in the Brighton defence.
Eventually, Martinelli fired a pass into Odgaard’s feet and travelled forward for the return more in hope than expectation. This would turn out to be a fatal underestimation of his team-mate.
As two defenders loomed, hoping to snatch the ball with the ease of taking candy from a baby, the Arsenal captain managed to drag the ball back and whip it through the feet of Lewis Dunk.
Happily, Dunk was able to wipe the egg from his face in time to see Martinelli squander the opportunity. The damage to his professional pride may take longer to heal.
— Dylan (@Dsaunders_sj) December 31, 2022
Odegaard is Arsenal’s top scorer in the Premier League this season with six goals and four assists in 14 games – but Arteta believes he can still improve. “He can be much better,” his manager said earlier this week.
“Physically he can improve in many areas. The way he can drive with the ball and eliminate people, his crossing, his passing range, can still be better.
“Defensively he is improving every single time, and [so is] that mentality to go on the pitch and win the game and have that mentality every three days.”
But, when asked whether Odegaard will fulfill his potential under his management, replied: “‘I was hoping – I don’t know if I was expecting – that he could show the talent that he has.
“Martin is in a really good moment. He is defining games, he is having a different kind of presence on the pitch.
“He has had the continuity and the minutes and the role in the team that he needed to shine.
“We try that with every player, to create the right environment and football philosophy and the right people around him to be successful.”
On the basis of this performance, that also included a goal and a sumptuous assist, Odegaard is capable of leading Arsenal to their first Premier League title since 2004.
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