Everyone adores Emile Smith Rowe. It’s impossible not to. A young man living out his Arsenal and England dream before our very eyes. You’d have to be soulless not to be caught up in the hype.
How he described scoring against Tottenham in the North London Derby as the ‘best day of my life’ reminds all those who’d become numb to the idea that footballers aren’t robots. That he’s come up through the Hale End makes it feel inherently better.
A wide-ranging skillset including the ability to receive on the half-turn and dart either left and right, his understanding of space, the elegance of his runs and his determined nature are all admirable traits.
There is an air of Paul Merson about him, as there is Tomas Rosicky.
Watch: Arsenal forward Emile Smith Rowe shows off incredible pace with lightening breakaway goal for England Under-21 against Andorra
Yet there is something else that is starting to develop in him. A weapon in his arsenal that has been gradually improving since his first proper introduction into the senior team ten months ago: his pace.
The 3-1 win over Spurs provided a glorious example of it as he latched on to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s magnificent flick. Turning on multiple afterburners, Smith Rowe was electric in charging at goal before laying it back off to his captain.
As ten-man England took on Andorra in their Under-21 encounter, there was the finest example yet of how quick the 21-year-old is. He just keeps getting faster.
Defending their first corner of the match, Curtis Jones collected possession in his own box and carried the ball towards the halfway line. If anyone remembers, and they should, Arshavin’s fourth goal against Liverpool in the Premier League where he receives Theo Walcott’s pass on the break, it was a bit like that only even quicker.
The young man had serious speed to burn and left the entire Andorra team in his dust before, and this might be the best part of all, showing superb composure to slot past the onrushing goalkeeper.
His pace often goes unnoticed but he’s certainly getting faster. Work in the gym and greater strength in his legs is having a positive effect. There is more explosion in his bursts. That, coupled with his superb carrying ability and cushion of the ball at pace is an increasingly valuable asset.
Further confirmation that he’s best playing out on the left when he has more grass to run into.