Mikel Arteta has revealed that Martin Odegaard has been carrying a small injury issue in recent weeks while he was delighted his rotated Arsenal side did not drop their intensity in Saturday’s win over Sheffield United.

The Gunners closed the gap to Premier League leaders Tottenham back to just two points with a thumping 5-0 victory over the struggling Blades at the Emirates, with Eddie Nketiah bagging a hat-trick.

Arteta made four changes to his team for the visit of Sheffield United and despite saying in pre-match that it was a simple case of ‘refreshing’ the line-up after a tough trip to Sevilla in midweek, he has now confirmed that Odegaard has been dealing with an injury niggle.

Asked about the decision not to play his skipper at all on Saturday, Arteta replied: ‘Obviously we went through all the minutes that everybody has played in the last three weeks and some of them they played an enormous amount of minutes.

‘Martin has been as well carrying a little thing and wasn’t very comfortable in the games. So we have players with enormous quality and we have to trust them, and we believed it was the right day to do so.’

Asked how tough the load has been on Odegaard recently, Arteta continued: ‘I think he has enjoyed a lot the last couple of weeks.

‘They’ve been really good for the team, he’s playing every game. Yes, he had a difficult period with the national team because it was a big blow for them what happened, but this is football and he needs to get on with that and he is a massive player for us.’

Arteta was also pleased that his rotated side did not drop their intensity, saying: ‘Obviously they came from the national teams. We beat City, then they go to the national teams, we then had to go to Stamford Bridge and we did what we did with it at Stamford Bridge.

‘And then you have to go to Sevilla, and that’s a really, really stressful week, with as well what they were experiencing in the last few weeks [with the national teams].

‘So then you can have the tendency to [relax] and go, “OK now we’re going to play at home” and that would have been the worst thing we could have done to compete against this team today.’