The Hale End products are creating a bit of a buzz among Arsenal fans.
However, there seems to one academy product who has slipped off the radar. Emile Smith Rowe quite literally burst on to the scene at Arsenal two years ago, but since then he seems to have become a bit of an afterthought.
There was some serious excitement surrounding Smith Rowe back in July 2018 when he impressed and scored a beauty against Atletico Madrid during pre-season. Under the new regime of Unai Emery – who had a history of blooding youngsters – we hoped he had found a star in the making.
Further appearances and goals against Qarabag and Blackpool in the Europa League and Carabao Cup respectively followed, making him our youngest goalscorer in competitive competitions since Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
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Emery described him as having ‘huge potential’, yet injury derailed his momentum shortly after and that was that.
Since then, Smith Rowe hasn’t really been in or around the first team, which is surprising considering we are committed to giving our youth products a chance. In my opinion, Smith Rowe is probably the most talented of the lot. Blessed with quick feet and ability on the ball, he is pacey, strong and direct, while also possessing the ability to get into goalscoring positions with ease.
Anyone who saw Smith Rowe for the Under-23 team a couple of years ago will know just how talented he is, and he can be lethal from dead-ball situations.
Given how poor Arsenal were creatively last season, it is again very surprising that we didn’t at least give Smith Rowe an opportunity to show what he is capable of instead of being over reliant on the same players.
Instead, he was loaned out to Huddersfield in January and performed admirably, so much so that when he returned in July he was giving a glowing endorsement by the Huddersfield coaching team. Former Terriers’ boss Danny Cowley called Smith Rowe a “Premier League player”.
It’s unfortunate that Smith Rowe’s breakthrough has come at the same time as the other Hale End products, and given the impact that they are currently having on the team and fans, it’s understandable that he had been pushed to the bottom of the pile.
However, he has only just turned 20 years old, so there is still plenty of time for him. Perhaps his time to break into the first team is not the present, thus he may benefit from another loan, although he hasn’t become a bad player overnight, and he is deserving of an opportunity in the first team when he returns from injury.
We always say ‘remember the name’ whenever a youngster breaks through, in the case of Emile Smith Rowe, it would be very wise not to forget his name just yet.