Mikel Arteta answered Arsenal fans’ prayers by handing Emile Smith Rowe a start against Dundalk. The Englishman was brilliant when he came off the bench in our last two Europa League games, and he was fantastic again this evening.
Smith Rowe started on the left flank and combined brilliantly with Ainsley Maitland-Niles on multiple occasions. The duo gave Dundalk’s right side a lot of problems, but neither of them were playing in their natural positions.
The 20-year-old, who spent the second half of last season on loan at Huddersfield, is naturally a number 10. He is at his best when he plays centrally and Arteta admitted that a role on the wings doesn’t really suit him.
The Arsenal boss told Football London: “He played in a position that doesn’t suit him perfectly for his qualities. He has a lot of creativity and has the quality to receive the ball and do things. He’s a threat and I’m really happy for his performance.”
Arteta is right, Smith Rowe has a lot of creativity in him. The youngster has fantastic vision, is good with the ball at his feet and can score goals as well. Those three traits are exactly what Arsenal are lacking in the Premier League.
The Gunners can’t buy a goal in the league at the moment. We have scored just once from open play since the start of October, and just 10 goals in 11 games has pushed us down to 15th in the table.
Smith Rowe – The new Ozil?
Arsenal fans have been urging Arteta to bring Mesut Ozil back into the mix to solve our attacking woes. The German is our most creative player, and a playmaker like him is exactly what the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette need to thrive.
However, Arteta clearly doesn’t want him anywhere near his squad. Ozil’s Arsenal career is done and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him leave the club in next month’s transfer window.
Thankfully for Arteta, he has Smith Rowe at his disposal. The youngster is viewed by many as the heir to Ozil’s throne, and performances like today’s will push him closer to replacing the German World Cup winner at the Emirates.