“We really believe in him. He must not be afraid and go for it, because he has the quality ”. Mikel Arteta’s words last January about Emile Smith Rowe (20) did not fall on deaf ears. The Arsenal attacking midfielder is one of the rare satisfactions of this gloomy 2020-2021 exercise for the Gunners and shines on the field. While the formation from north London goes to the Estadio de la Cerámica this Thursday (9 p.m.) to face Unai Emery’s Villarreal, in the semi-final first leg of the Europa League, the light could, as often since qu ‘he has fully integrated the team this season, coming from the cleats of this club kid in uninhibited play.
Emile Smith Rowe (1.82m), a pure product of Hal End, the Arsenal training center, which he joined at the age of 10, will also find his former coach, who will remain the coach having launched it into the deep end. The native of Croydon, a city in the southern suburbs of London, indeed plays his first professional match with the Gunners one evening of C3, September 20, 2018, replacing Alex Iwobi in the 70th minute against Vorskla Poltava, becoming in the process the first player born in the 21st century to wear the Canonniers jersey among the pros. The one who is sometimes nicknamed the “Kevin De Bruyne de Croydon” by Arsenal fans even scored his first goal in the Europa League on October 4, 2018 at Qarabag (3-0).
The derby won against Chelsea, an opportunity and a click
The young ESR, who evolves with the U23s by grabbing playing time in the first team, quickly takes his marks in the professional world. Enough to encourage the north London club to send him to gain experience by loaning him 6 months first to RB Leipzig (where an injury only allows him to play 3 matches with the Bundesliga team, in 2019) then in Huddersfield (2 goals and 3 assists in 19 appearances in the Championship, in 2020) once the arrival of Mikel Arteta on the bench of the Gunners recorded after the dismissal of Unai Emery. Back at Arsenal in the summer of 2020, a shoulder injury sidelined him for much of the first half of the season. At the end of November, the former assistant of Pep Guardiola, who is not cold-eyed when it comes to relying on young people from the academy, then begins, at first, by offering playing time to Emile Smith Rowe in the Europa League.
– Arsenal (@Arsenal) December 28, 2020
The career of Arsenal number 32 then took a different turn when Mikel Arteta started him against Chelsea, on December 26, 2020, in the Premier League. That night, the Gunners won 3-1 and Smith Rowe, a decisive passer, put in a remarkable performance in a number 10 role he loved. This meeting marks the beginning of the meteoric rise of ESR, which has since established itself as an essential part of the London workforce. “The young players have earned our trust and proven that we can believe in them. Not only in matches but also in the way they behave on the side and in the way they train every day ”, explained Mikel Arteta in an interview with Sky Sports on April 18.
A significant influence on the game of the Gunners
First positioned as number 10 in Arteta’s playing system, the one who is easily recognizable on the green rectangle with his atypical style, socks down à la Jack Grealish, displays his qualities of speed, percussion, dribbling as well as his creativity in the eyes of England and on the European scene. Always carried forward, playing in the spaces and bringing that binder that Arsenal sometimes lacks between the middle and the attack, Emile Smith Rowe has restored confidence to an Arsenal team which was sorely lacking and knew how to show itself decisive in important moments. His statistics (2 goals and 7 assists in all competitions since the start of the season) do not necessarily reflect the considerable contribution of this constantly moving player on the field, nor the fluidity he has brought.
Even after the arrival of Martin Odegaard (on loan from Real Madrid), to whom Mikel Arteta gives the keys to playmaker, ESR does not give up and adapts to a winger position. A change of position that is not felt in his game, still fiery with a touch of recklessness for a player who does not tremble when making the last move. “The best players are cool in the last few yards or around the area. That extra second, that extra pass, that extra touch … they’re in control. Emile had it (against Slavia Prague, 4-0 on April 15) “, also analyzed Mikel Arteta a short time ago, after the young Englishman was decisive in the quarter-finals of the Europa League.
Arsenal want their nugget
Emile Smith Rowe’s performances remind Arsenal executives that his current lease runs until 2023 and that his rating is climbing in the transfer market. Based on information from The Athletic, the Gunners have started discussions to extend their new nugget, winner of the Under-17 World Cup with England in 2017. The media specifies that the London board wants to sign a long-term contract with the international Under-17s of the Three Lions (2 capes). After Bukayo Saka, who confirms his excellent first season last year, Arsenal has in any case, in the person of Emile Smith Rowe, a new gem to be cherished as it should over the next few years.