Future of Emile Smith-Rowe at Arsenal FC in Question

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Emile Smith-Rowe first burst onto the scene, in late 2018, when he became the club’s second-youngest goalscorer after finding the net against Qarabag in the Europa League. His all-action performance was praised by Unai Emery, and a number of Arsenal fans took to social media to express their excitement at the prospect of the then-teenager breaking into the first team over the coming months. However, despite his energetic display, and a number of promising appearances in pre-season, things have gone a little quiet in recent months, and he is yet to play a single minute of top flight football this season.

The 20-year old has made just two Premier League appearances so far, and he’ spent the majority of last season on loan at Huddersfield Town. During his tenure at the John Smith’s Stadium, he scored two goals, including an 86th minute winner which moved the Terriers to the brink of safety whilst also confirming promotion for near-neighbours Leeds United. He also laid on two assists in West Yorkshire, and averaged 1.5 shots per game. The club reportedly enquired about his availability once again this summer. However, they were knocked back and told that Gunners boss Mikel Arteta was keen to keep hold of the promising youngster. 

Despite these claims, the Spaniard is yet to utilise the attacking midfielder in any capacity, although with six Europa League games to be played in the space of eight weeks, Arteta may opt to rotate his squad throughout November and December. The Gunners have been drawn alongside Molde, Dundalk and Rapid Wien, and will be strongly expected to progress to the knock-out stages of the competition. If, as expected, they manage to reach the latter stages, Smith-Rowe may be given plenty of opportunities to impress the Arsenal hierarchy. 

With the North London outfit expected to be competing across multiple competitions throughout the season, Smith-Rowe could become an incredibly useful asset, although he may have to be patient. Arsenal fans will be desperately hoping that their side can improve upon last season’s eighth place finish, and they can be backed at 7/4 in the latest Premier League betting to make their long-awaited return to the top four.

 

Arteta has displayed a willingness to give youth a chance since his appointment in December 2019, with 19-year-old Bukayo Saka having played 266 minutes of Premier League football so far this season. Striker Eddie Nketiah has been slowly introduced to the top flight, while Ainsley Maitland-Niles has also forced his way into the manager’s plans in recent weeks. It bodes well for Smith-Rowe who may also benefit from Mesut Ozil’s permanent omission.

Questions remain over Smith-Rowe’s fitness, with some fans questioning whether he would be able to last a full 90 minutes. However, he certainly could be utilised as an impact sub over the coming months. Although the Gunners have had very few issues finding the back of the net so far this season, the former RB Leipzig loanee does offer plenty of creativity in the final third and could be a handy weapon against a tiring opposition defence.

Although he is still widely regarded as an exciting prospect, the buzz surrounding Smith-Rowe has somewhat died down over the past couple of years, and he must be given the opportunity to reignite his once-promising career. With Arteta keen to keep him at the club, he simply mustn’t be left to stagnate and fans will be hoping to see him given plenty of opportunities to continue his progress over the course of the campaign.

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