Premier League

Emile Smith Rowe: Three starts, three wins as Arsenal starlet earns Ozil praise

The Gunners have won three straight games since the attacking midfielder was brought into Mikel Arteta's starting XI.

Emile Smith Rowe was excellent against West Brom Emile Smith Rowe was excellent against West Brom
1:17pm on Sunday 3rd January 2021
Chris Myson

Emile Smith Rowe continued his impressive run in the Arsenal team as the Gunners continued their revival against West Brom.

A 4-0 away Premier League win on Saturday gave Mikel Arteta's men a third consecutive victory.

Kieran Tierney was in spectacular form and scored a superb goal, while Dani Ceballos made an impressive return to the starting XI.

Alexandre Lacazette netted a double, with Arsenal's other goal coming when Bukayo Saka finished off a tremendous team move which saw Smith Rowe claim the assist.

Injuries partly forced Arteta's hand when he reverted to a 4-2-3-1 system against Chelsea on Boxing Day, handing Smith Rowe his first start of the season in a number 10 role.

It gave the under-pressure manager a winning formula and his team looked to be playing with a renewed enthusiasm.

Smith Rowe, 20, provided an assist for Saka that day too as a 3-1 win brought Arsenal, who had been dragged into a relegation battle, out of the doldrums.

He played 89 minutes in the 1-0 win over Brighton and then 77 against West Brom as he recorded a 7.3 FC Rating.

The display caught the attention of Ozil who, having been marginalised by Arteta despite calls to reinstate him, made a pointed comment about the formation and his own situation while praising Smith Rowe.

He wrote on Twitter: "Team looks good with a No10 like Emile Smith Rowe - the difference maker.

"Nice game my boys! Great spirit - 3 wins in a row."

Former Gunners impressed by Smith Rowe

Arsenal legend Ian Wright was one of the first to call for Smith Rowe's introduction to the team and he believes the move has paid off emphatically.

"There were too many sideways passes [before] and I think with Saka, Tierney and with Emile Smith Rowe, the way that they want to get forward and create, it has totally changed," Wright told BBC Sport.

"Wins are going to help you gain confidence. Look at Emile Smith Rowe in that nice No.10 area. Passing, moving and then they are in.

"He passes it to Lacazette, gets the ball back, plays it across for Saka and it’s in. That is old Arsenal and what they can do. It is great to see them doing it.

"What Arsenal need from midfield is more goals and you can see Smith Rowe on the edge of the box getting ready to come in. He was so unlucky to hit the post."

Martin Keown is another former Gunner who likes what he sees.

He told BT Sport: "This is about the future. Smith Rowe has intelligence on the ball.

"His link-up with Saka, they’ve obviously played together in the youth teams. It’s a wonderful goal - made to look so easy by Arsenal.

"It was like a throwback to the Pires years, the Henry movement. They would have been brought up on this coming through the academy.

"That’s what’s special about it. Smith Rowe coming in, giving and going, keeping his run on and Saka knows he’ll find him.

"And he does, he just rolls it into him. It’s really good movement, I’ve been immensely impressed with Smith Rowe since he’s come into the team, everyone thought that was the sort of role Mesut Ozil was going to fulfil.

"It shows the manager wants that type of player but he wants youth and exuberance and he’s certainly getting it with these two."

Emile Smith Rowe: Player Statistics, Career Stats and Position

Smith Rowe has little top-flight experience to draw upon prior to this season, though so far it has not hindered him.

He made only three substitute appearances on loan at RB Leipzig in 2018/19.

Smith Rowe played 19 games in the Championship on loan at Huddersfield Town last season and had two Premier League outings for Arsenal.

With a game against Crystal Palace coming in between an FA Cup and league double-header against Newcastle United next, Smith Rowe will surely get further opportunities to impress.

West Brom 0-4 Arsenal: Player Ratings, Match Stats, Player Stats

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