3. Emile Smith Rowe
Smith Rowe has just turned 23 which is quite amazing considering how long he has been around the Arsenal first team. A long-term injury kept him out for much of last season and when he had recovered he didn’t have much game time.
However, with each pre-season appearance he has looked a little bit sharper and more match-fit. In the game against Barça, he particularly caught my eye. He didn’t play incredibly well but he looked fast and had a couple of nice combinations.
The thing about ESR is that if he gets going, he is incredibly difficult to play against. Carrying the ball at lightning pace, with one-touch passes, he offers something to the team that other midfielders like Martin Odegaard and Kai Havertz don’t offer. He moves the ball at such a fast pace and he has an effective way of striking the ball.
I’ve been a massive fan of Smith Rowe since that breakout season under Arteta and he was, along with Saka, the first player to inspire hope among fans. If he can raise his level, he will be a real difference-maker for this team and he could slot in beautifully into that Xhaka role if given the chance. It’s now up to Arteta whether he can afford to give ESR some games to settle into that role or not.
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