Does Emile Smith Rowe have a future at the Arsenal?


After an effervescent 2021-22 campaign saw Emile Smith Rowe explode for ten goals, earning numerous nicknames—Kev, Emilio, Croydon de Bruyne—injuries derailed almost the entirety of 2022-23, reducing him to a mere 161 minutes in 12 Prem appearances. While it’s possible that the paucity of appearances he made is down to lingering effects of groin surgery in October, Arteta’s managemenet of his reintroduction has sent very mixed messages. Is it possible that Smith Rowe has been frozen out?

There’s been encouraging talk around Smith Rowe being an important part of Arteta’s plans but a lot will ride on Smith Rowe’s performance at the U21 Euros. It feels strange to think that the lad would have to audition to convince Arteta of his value. However, the way he was made to sit on the bench was puzzling. There were ten times he was named to the squad but was rooted the bench, and six other times when he came on to play less than fifteen minutes. While some of these were tetchy matches in which a rusty Smith Rowe might have been more a liability than an asset, there were numerous others in which a comfortable scoreline might have allowed him more than the cameos he got. If he wasn’t fit, why bother naming him to the squad? If he was lacking match fitness, why not give him more minutes?

One of the big reasons we faltered down the stretch was fatigue brought on by a lack of rotation. Some of that was the direct result of a lack of available players, but some of that was Arteta’s refusal to rotate more when he could get away with it. How much fresher and sharper might Saka have been, for example, if Arteta had subbed him off after 70 minutes (or earlier) when the scoreline allowed it? Giving Smith Rowe 15 or minutes against Everton, Fulham or Crystal Palace when we’re three goals to the good would have kept Saka fresh and given the Smith time to re-discover that match fitness. You can purchase squad depth or you can develop it from within.

Arteta has talked about wanting a squad of 24 players, and we’re not quite filthy rich enough to simply buy the eleven or twelve upgrades we need to get there. If a player like Smith Rowe was good enough to play a key role a season ago, let’s hope he can earn Arteta’s trust in time to reprise that role in 2023-24.

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1 thought on “Does Emile Smith Rowe have a future at the Arsenal?

  1. Elliott Dudnik

    The primary point that needs to be made is about how Arteta will play the greater number of matches next year, especially the CL matches. While many folks used squad size as one reason for the mini-collapse, how much was the result of a failure to use those you had on the bench at the right times. Will Arteta do any better when he has a larger squad or, once more, will he over-use a dozen of those players and leave too many on the bench?
    This raises the question as to whether some potential signings may question whether they want to warm the bench albeit for a winning or CL side and, consequently go elsewhere? Will Arteta be capable of also trying to go for minor silverware, if only to preempt MU and other supporters from bragging about their prizes while we only have the nonexistent second place ribbon and nothing else?
    By the way, what hurts when watching the 88 goal video is recognizing how, if only three of those, if not one or two more, had occurred during those infamous draws, we would be hoisting the PL cup. On the other hand, was it lack of goals on those occasions or inability to hold leads and (let us not blame Holding) playing the back lines differently or with other players?


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