Everyone knows about away-day Ramsdale, but are we ready for another instalment of Christmas Smith Rowe?
It was late 2020 when ‘The Smith’ first announced himself on the Premier League stage versus Chelsea and, while injuries have since stunted his Arsenal career, he is now finally fit again and primed for the Yuletide season.
His return will bring particular excitement over the #8 slot, which remains quite an issue in our post-Granit Xhaka world. The Swiss international left a void both Leandro Trossard and (mostly) Kai Havertz have so far failed to address, yet it is where Smith Rowe operates best and such suitability might, in turn, provide the catalyst to optimise our hitherto stodgy frontline.
Although often used out wide, the 23-year-old is a powerful runner and possesses an incredible dribbling technique that would offer more attacking threat if exhibited in midfield. Bipedalism and security on the ball mean he can wriggle away from tackles with ease before passing, or else call upon his clean ball-striking to ripple the net himself.
The return of Emile Smith Rowe is a huge Christmas boost for Arsenal
Quick movement into the box should also greatly benefit his Hale End peer Bukayo Saka, as the resultant opportunities to combine will help with breaking teams down and may draw attention away from our Starboy- giving him additional freedom to wield his influence.
However, an available ESR could equally improve the team as a collective this Christmas. His offensive qualities could see Martin Odegaard drop deeper to aid ball progression (arguably his biggest strength) and enable Declan Rice to push forward into a tempo-controlling role when sustaining pressure (further facilitated by Thomas Partey's impending return).
Then, a Gabriel Jesus/Smith Rowe dynamic whets any appetite and would be an incredible weapon to deploy at Anfield next week, where ball retention up top would form a vital outlet amid the suffocating Liverpool press.
Rotation is a dream for every football manager, but it can be so hard to do when the stakes are high and injuries start to mount. Therefore, to welcome back someone of Smith Rowe’s calibre is a major blessing for Arsenal and his freshness could make a huge difference against weary mid-season opposition.
The tough festive schedule ahead suggests Arteta will need all options at his disposal. They do not come much better than Emile Smith Rowe.