A Season of Setbacks, But Smith Rowe Isn’t Going Anywhere
Despite a season stunted by injuries, Arsenal’s 22-year-old attacking powerhouse Emile Smith Rowe isn’t expected to be exiting the Emirates any time soon. The dynamic player, boasting a contract valid until 2026, remains firmly within Mikel Arteta’s vision for the Gunners’ future.
A Tough Season But Resilient Spirit
The past campaign was a rough patch for Smith Rowe, with persistent injuries restricting his on-pitch presence to a mere 14 appearances throughout 2022-23. This significantly reduced playing time, a total of only 195 minutes in all competitions, has ignited speculation regarding his long-term future at the club. Smith Rowe’s potential departure was further fueled by Aston Villa’s rejected bids for him in 2021.
Nonetheless, the footballing world is no stranger to the midfielder’s potential. The expectation is high for Smith Rowe, with hopes pinned on him becoming a significant figure for England at the Under-21 European Championship later this summer. His subsequent return to form and fitness will no doubt be a welcomed advantage to Arsenal in their upcoming campaign.
Smith Rowe: A Shining Talent Despite Limited Play
Smith Rowe’s limited game time did not dim his performance ability in the slightest. In Arsenal’s season finale, a dominant 5-0 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers, the young player was brought on as a second-half substitute and promptly provided an assist. This strong finish underscored the Gunners’ overall performance, as they secured a second-place finish in the Premier League and a much-anticipated return to Champions League football in the forthcoming season, a first since 2016-17.
Why is Smith Rowe Still Central to Arsenal?
Art de Roche, an Arsenal correspondent for The Athletic, is unequivocal about the quality Smith Rowe brings to the team. He was pivotal to the Gunners’ resurgence after a challenging start to the 2021-22 campaign, in which he was the club’s second top scorer, netting 11 goals in all competitions. His influence on the pitch was palpable, with his inclusion in the starting XI against Chelsea on Boxing Day 2020 marking a significant shift in Arsenal’s fortune.
His contribution to Arsenal’s growth is undeniable. Awarded a five-year contract and the revered number 10 shirt in 2021, Smith Rowe has become a symbol of the young Arsenal side’s development, much like his peer, Bukayo Saka. However, this past season presented hurdles for the promising star.
The Challenges of a New Season
The young Gunner underwent surgery in September to treat an ongoing growth-related issue, sidelining him for the first half of the campaign. A further unrelated setback after New Year compounded his challenges, with Mikel Arteta finding it difficult to ease him back into regular play, thus his frequent appearances from the bench.
Arteta’s recent comments, reported by David Ornstein and Art de Roche in The Athletic, offer insight into his approach to this summer’s transfer window and the potential within the current squad. He’s made clear his intent to optimise the talents already at his disposal, including those he feels have yet to reach their full potential.
“First of all, be critical with ourselves, first with myself,” Arteta stated last week. “My job is to get the best out of 24 players that we have available, and I haven’t been able to do that. There are still players who have great potential and we haven’t been able to do that.”
Arteta acknowledged the numerous reasons that might hinder a player’s progress, from injuries to inadequate game time. However, he asserts a commitment to seeking those margins to enhance each player’s performance. With this in mind, Emile Smith Rowe’s journey at Arsenal is far from over; instead, it’s primed for a new chapter of growth and success.