Arsenal are set to host Rapid Wien in the Europa League in a few hours. The Gunners have qualified for the knockout stages and need just one point to secure the top spot in the group.
Mikel Arteta’s men have been ruthless in the competition so far. Arsenal are undoubtedly one of the favourites to win the Europa League and our record shows why. We have scored 12 goals, conceded just two and have won every single game.
We can now afford to rest all of our key players and gave opportunities to some of our youngsters. Emile Smith Rowe is one of the first names that come to mind, but if James Benge is to be believed, Arteta has left him on the bench for the game against Rapid Wien tonight.
Smith Rowe deserves a start
That really is a strange decision. Smith Rowe is one of our finest young talents, and he showed his class by picking up an assist in the 15 minutes he played against Molde in the Europa League last week.
In a period where we are struggling for creativity, Smith Rowe is exactly the kind of player who can help us. The 20-year-old has fantastic vision, is a good passer and makes excellent runs to free up space for his teammates.
He is tipped by many to be the heir to Mesut Ozil’s throne at Arsenal, but Arteta seems hesitant to use him. The Arsenal boss recently labelled Smith Rowe as ‘an incredible talent’, but urged fans to be patient with him as he isn’t quite ready to handle the pressure that comes with wearing the famous red and white shirt. (Read here)
However, a near-meaningless game like tonight’s is the perfect opportunity for the youngster to show what he has got. Rapid Wien aren’t the strongest team in the world, and it wouldn’t really make a difference if he commits a few errors.
Arsenal fans are clearly not happy with Arteta’s decision. Many feel that he deserves a chance to play in the Europa League after not getting a chance in any other competition for one reason or another this season.