Arsenal ace Emile Smith Rowe has evolved into one of Mikel Arteta’s most important players – and highlighted why the Gunners rebuffed Aston Villa’s summer bids for the academy star
Emile Smith Rowe penned the latest chapter in his Arsenal success story on Friday night.
The Croydon-born youngster has transformed the trajectory of his Gunners career during a remarkable 12 months.
Mikel Arteta’s side were struggling last Christmas before the Smith Rowe stepped up to give the Gunners boss the perfect present with a dynamic display in the 3-1 Boxing Day win over Chelsea.
And the 21-year-old hasn’t looked back since.
Smith Rowe has quite often, alongside fellow academy star Bukayo Saka, been one of the very few bright spots during difficult times in Arteta’s reign.
The fact that Arsenal rebuffed Aston Villa’s £30million bid this summer highlights just how much of a key figure Smith Rowe has become for the Gunners.
HAVE YOUR SAY! Is Emile Smith Rowe Arsenal’s best player at the minute? Comment below
And his display in the 3-1 win over Dean Smith’s side showed just why they were so keen to strike a deal for his services.
Thomas Partey’s opening goal came from Smith Rowe’s pinpoint delivery, and the youngster got in on the act himself by drilling home Arsenal’s third goal after Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang had dispatched a penalty on the stroke of half time.
His match-winning performance against Villa was the perfect follow-up to his exceptional performance in the north London derby triumph over Tottenham last month.
With Arteta under immense pressure after overseeing Arsenal’s worst-ever start to a season, Smith Rowe stepped up once again for his manager by grabbing a goal and an assist to inspire the Gunners to a monumental win.
If there was any doubt before over Smith Rowe’s quality, or that his impressive run of form under Arteta last season was a fluke, then that argument has now been put to bed.
Smith Rowe has evolved into one of Arsenal’s big hitters and there still looks to be plenty more to come.
Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher hailed Smith Rowe as the best dribbler in the league and tipped the ace for an England call-up in the near future after his all-star display against Villa.
When Arsenal have been at their best this term, it’s been the academy graduate pulling the strings.
And the Spaniard revealed after the match how Smith Rowe has stepped up away from the pitch as well as on it to take his game to the next level after seizing his big chance last year.
“When you want to take the game to the next level, when you become a real important player in such a big club, that should be the only priority and every detail is important and relevant,” Arteta said.
“You have to make him aware of that, you cannot give percentages away that can make big differences and he has changed that.
“There is no complaining, he is just looking forwards, he is really determined, he has changed the way he is living as well a little bit and some of the habits that he had and he’s been superb.”
Arsenal have a proud tradition of producing talented players from their famed Hale End academy.
That’s hardly unique for a Premier League club, but the number of starlets that the Gunners have nurtured from the youth ranks into the senior set-up does set them apart from others.
Arteta has placed a real emphasis on building his team around younger players with the scope to develop – something that was evident in the club’s transfer dealings this summer.
No Premier League club matched the Gunners £140m outlay in the transfer window, but all of the new recruits at the Emirates are aged 24 or under.
Most have impressed, too.
But it was evident on Friday night that the key transfer decision was keeping hold of Smith Rowe – who is quickly developing into one of the more remarkable Hale End success stories.