Arsenal need a spark. Life from somewhere.
With the current situation at Arsenal fraught with the danger of slipping even further afield from the Premier League top half, who and what can fix it becomes the key subject matter.
Thomas Partey is unable to lend a helping hand for the foreseeable future, Mesut Ozil isn’t even able to be called upon in the Premier League and the January window, frustratingly, is in…January, thus Mikel Arteta has to find salvation from within.
Whichever way it’s viewed from, all signs point to Emile Smith Rowe. Arsenal’s flat midfield three or the efforts to shoehorn Joe Willock into the No. 10 role have bore no fruit.
Willock can be used in the role he’s been recently bestowed with but it’s not ideal. His impact is greater when his runs are longer, where he can build motion and aggression – his timing in that respect is vastly improved. However, he isn’t technically sound enough to shimmy his way in between challenges and feed teammates with the blink of an eye.
He boasts many such traits, but not in the same vein of Smith Rowe who, at just 20 years old, is uncontested in the race for the No. 10 slot. The forward has no competition wrestling him for that berth in the team. Willock has shown flashes of what he can do in advanced areas, he just isn’t a No. 10.
In a position that Arsenal should be light years away from, ways to improve us as an attacking unit have come to this. Analysing different shapes, tactics and points of attack, viable options are running out.
Arsenal are so devoid of vision and inventiveness that their hopes may rest on the shoulders of the Croydon lad with 97 minutes of Premier League football under his belt. It really has come to this.
History tells us how dangerous placing so much weight of expectation on any one player can be. It’s already happening with Gabriel Martinelli, it happened with William Saliba, it happened with Rob Holding. Hope is always just around the corner with Arsenal.
Depending on which outlook you have on the scenario, Smith Rowe’s inclusion could the key to Arsenal becoming a more potent attacking unit. Assuming the role, one he’ll relish, and making an immediate impact may fall by the wayside where his confidence will get shot to pieces in a side whose failings may only bring him down with them.
Smith Rowe has a sky-high ceiling way. Wherever he’s been, glowing assessments have followed. Arteta hasn’t held back in his praise either. A season-long loan, or even a six-month temporary move would have been ideal to get him up to speed in the division, but the dire nature of the club he’s grown up at may need him sooner than anticipated.
How many rolls of the dice Arteta has left in regards to fixing this midfield is a number we’d rather not ponder about. Smith Rowe is one of them, though.
It’d be too much to fling him straight into Premier League action from the off, and with it looking like he’ll get the nod on Thursday, how dominating and influential he can be may sway the manager one way or the other.
For all the praise he’s earned though, he isn’t a saviour. That has to be in the back of the mind when he does get his chance, which looks closer to arriving by the day.