Arsenal: Get excited about Emile Smith Rowe

Arsenal, Emile Smith Rowe (Photo by John Early/Getty Images)
Arsenal, Emile Smith Rowe (Photo by John Early/Getty Images) /

After an encouraging six-month loan with Huddersfield Town, Emile Smith Rowe returns to Arsenal this summer. As Mikel Arteta’s recent comments hint at, it is time to get excited.

Mikel Arteta has been keen to invest heavily in the young players in the Arsenal squad. He recognises that he will need to make the most of the young talent already in the squad. The club cannot afford to spend freely, so, when it comes to rebuilding the team in a competitive manner, it is down to Arteta’s ability to improve the talent he has inherited.

There are several players at the club that have already proven their capability. Bukayo Saka is already a Premier League regular, Gabriel Martinelli looks like a ready-made superstar, while Eddie Nketiah, Joe Willock, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Reiss Nelson are already on the fringes of the first team. There is, however, another name to add to the list of prospective youngsters who Arteta could turn into a potential Premier League star.

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Currently on loan at Huddersfield Town, Arteta is yet to work extensively with midfielder, Emile Smith Rowe. However, just as was the case with Kieran Tierney when he praised his attitude and commitment despite having only seen him from a distance before football’s return, Arteta is quite aware of Smith Rowe’s outrageous talent and hugely bright prospects. Speaking with Sky Sports this week, he was asked about the 19-year-old:

"“He’s a player with very specific qualities to play in those pockets in that position as an attacking midfielder. I am excited to work with him. I have been talking with him and I have followed him during his spell on loan. I think he’s someone who can be pretty impressive. I’m pleased by what I’ve seen from him. He needed that exposure and he looks more mature now. I think he will be in a much better place when he comes back in pre-season.”"

Smith Rowe’s first-team opportunities have been limited, thus far. But the same was true of Saka before the start of the season, and when he has played, he has looked extremely comfortable at the senior level, expressing himself with a subtle speed and gliding grace that is rare to see in such a young player.

Six months in the Championship has been the perfect preparation, too. His loan spell in Germany last season was undermined by injuries. Now, he is fit, playing regular senior football, and seems physically more prepared than ever to handle the athletic demands of competitive play, something that can be problematic for slighter prospects.

There is also a very clear path into the Arsenal team. Mesut Ozil has been banished by Arteta, Matteo Guendouzi is also on the way out, while the lack of creativity in central midfield was painfully exposed by Tuesday’s 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa. Without Ozil. Arsenal have no natural attacking midfielder in the squad bar Willock, who is much more a runner and ball-carrier than a creator.

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Smith Rowe, then, is hugely talented, has the belief of his manager, and has a viable path into the first team. It might just be time to get excited.