Positive #3: Emile Smith Rowe’s lively cameo
He only got onto the pitch with 20 minutes remaining, but Smith Rowe still managed to enliven proceedings at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis. His feet were quick, thinking insightful and purpose direct.
Those are the attributes Smith Rowe can introduce to the final third at any moment. It’s why he should play more often.
Arsenal can’t produce enterprising and entertaining football without enterprising and entertaining players. Smith Rowe ticked both boxes in France, so he should start against the Cityzens and give Arsenal’s underworked creator-in-chief some much-needed support.
Negative #3: Martin Odegaard not seeing enough of the ball
The problem showed up during a gritty but otherwise inspiring win at Everton. It became more than a minor issue in the 2-2 draw with Spurs, before morphing into a full-blown talking point against Lens: Odegaard isn’t seeing enough of the ball.
He’s Arsenal’s chief playmaker, but No. 8 spends too much time in areas of the pitch where he’s unable to direct possession. Odegaard often operates alongside Jesus as a de facto second striker, no place for a natural, central schemer.
The result is an Arsenal side lacking fluency and verve going forward. Odegaard has attempted 110 passes through two Champions League matches, five less than Zinchenko and 37 fewer than central defender William Saliba. That discrepancy helps explain Arsenal’s increasingly plodding and uneven attacking play.
Getting Odegaard more involved should be Arteta’s priority.