With Arsenal fans clamoring for Emile Smith Rowe’s return to the starting lineup, manager Mikel Arteta has revealed why he can’t play him right away.
Arsenal earned a 1-0 victory over Brentford in the third round of the 2023/24 Carabao Cup (EFL Cup) at the Gitek Community Stadium in Brentford, England on Monday (Aug. 28).
Head coach Mikel Arteta fielded a second-team squad for the match, leaving out a number of first-teamers who have been playing a lot of league and UEFA Champions League matches recently.
There were a number of players in the starting lineup who hadn’t started before, including one who made his first start in 499 days. Smith Rowe made his return to the starting lineup in the League Cup tie, with Gabriel Martinelli, Leandro Trosar, Martin Ødegaard and Fabio Vieira taking advantage of the gap between the starters and the rest of the roster.
Smith Rowe broke into the first-team in the 2020/21 season, playing a key role in Arsenal’s attack at just 19 years of age, with his concise dribbling, clever movement and powerful kicks making him a prominent figure in the Gunners’ attack at a young age. Mikel Arteta said of Smith Rowe: “Smith Rowe is a smart player with great ability. His sharpness in transition and exceptional vision have already made him a key player for us, and his attitude and willingness to learn are also very impressive.”
The Gunners had high hopes for Smith Rowe, who signed a new contract with the club ahead of the 2021/22 season and was given the number 10 shirt to symbolize their ace in the hole.
However, Smith Rowe’s progress was halted by injury. A groin injury that required surgery in the 2022/23 season limited Smith Rowe to 12 league appearances and zero starts. Given that he had made 33 appearances and 21 starts in the previous season, 2021/22, it was hard to see him as an active part of the team.
He has since been linked with a move to Chelsea ahead of the 2023/24 season, but has rejected all offers in favor of keeping Smith Rowe, and Arteta tested the waters by starting him in this League Cup tie.
Against Brentford, Smith Rowe played until the 37th minute of the second half before being replaced by Ödegaard, who put in a decent performance with a 95% pass completion rate, one shot on target, a 100% cross completion rate, and one successful dribble breakthrough, but he also looked a little sluggish in the second half due to the physical strain.
In the meantime, Arsenal fans have been calling for Smith Rowe to start in the league after his relatively decent return to action.
“Arsenal fans have called for Smith Rowe to start ahead of Kai Havertz in the starting lineup,” TalkSPORT reported on April 28.
“Smith Rowe made his return to the Arsenal starting lineup after a 499-day absence, and his proficient performance left fans wanting more. ‘He is much better than Haberts in the attacking midfield role,’ some fans praised.”
Haberth joined the Gunners for a whopping £65 million ahead of the season, but he hasn’t been performing to expectations and has been criticized every time he steps on the pitch.
He disappointed fans with a ridiculous fumble at a crucial goal scoring opportunity against Manchester United last time out, and was criticized for his lethargic performance as a late substitute in the recent North London derby.
This has led Arsenal fans to call for Smith Rowe to start in place of the out-of-form Haberz. Some Arsenal fans took to social media to say, “Smith Rowe should play the number 8 role. Enough of Arteta’s experiment with Haberts. Smith Rowe was born to play that role,” strongly arguing that Smith Rowe should replace Haberth.온라인바카라
However, Arteta disagreed. In his post-match press conference, Arteta said, “Smith Rowe is not physically capable of playing 90 minutes yet. We have four or five players who can play in that position and that was a concern in the lineup for this game. We also have to manage his minutes,” Arteta said, adding that Smith Rowe is not in a position to continue playing in the starting lineup for now.
With Arsenal struggling with injuries up front and in the middle of the pitch in recent years, Smith Rowe’s return to the Gunners’ lineup has garnered a lot of attention, and fans will be watching closely to see if he can once again be the solution for the Gunners this season.