Emile Smith Rowe: Who Is The Young Arsenal Star That Replaced Mesut Ozil?

Emile Smith Rowe

Emile Smith Rowe has been the shining (and surprising) star for Arsenal during this season’s Barclays Premier League. When Arsenal chose to not sign veteran German playmaker Mesut Ozil, many eyebrows were raised throughout the footballing world. However, the emergence of Emile Smith Rowe has put all those doubts to rest. All the fears about a lack of creativity in the midfield have been alleviated with the emergence of “Kev”. That’s what his teammates call him since he bears a striking resemblance to Manchester City star Kevin De Bruyne. In this post, we will take a closer look at the young and exciting career of Emile Smith Rowe. Let’s get started.

Emile Smith Rowe: All You Need To Know

How has Emile Smith Rowe’s Arsenal season been?

Emile Smith Rowe is one of the best young Premier League players today. The midfielder has been a real solution for Mikel Arteta and he is having an incredible season in an Arsenal team bereft of talent.

Arsenal has been in a state of flux for quite some time. It has won the FA Cup in recent years but has a hard time getting into the Champions League qualifications. The glory days of Thierry Henry and Arsene Wenger are way back in the past. The London outfit spent 115m Euros between Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, a duo that started off well but ended up not being useful when it came to getting results.

How has Emile Smith Rowe contributed to Arsenal’s resurgence?

When Arsenal was in danger of relegation because with Unai Emery they did not raise their game, Mikel Arteta arrived to take care of the substitute bench, who moved away from Emery’s more “poetic” gameplay and relied more on pragmatism and defensive solidity. However, that football version that Arteta had shown for 2019 was also far away, since he now found a much more dynamic and more offensive game.

And one of the keys to this change in the coach was the appearance of Emile Smith Rowe, a special boy, different from others. He is one of those players who has a whole map of the field in his head, and at the same time, has the patience and technique to exploit that characteristic that very few players have. Although it was one of those cases in which they left the team on loan several times, he knew how to take advantage of those experiences to be able to return to Arsenal and show that he can be part of the history of such an important team in England.

What contributed to Emile Smith Rowe’s success?

First of all, Emile Smith Rowe always trusted his football skills because despite not having played almost anything when he was loaned to Leipzig, he kept training to be able to live up to the challenge. The footballer himself confessed in an interview: “My loan in Leipzig was a very frustrating period, I moved by myself and my family couldn’t come, it was hard but I don’t regret it .” Currently, his game is worth 30 million euros and he has Arsenal’s 10 on his back.

Another very important aspect that Smith Rowe emphasizes every time he declares is food. “Before they gave me cramps every 60 minutes. I didn’t eat well, I didn’t hydrate well. I love chocolate and restaurants,” explained the footballer. He also said that he has a personal chef to control his diet: “I eat several pasta dishes. In addition, I did not like fish before, but now I eat salmon and those things. My mother is the one who normally cooks, but now she does not do it anymore.”

In any case, this season he is a true all-rounder and it is partly thanks to the fact that he changed his nutrition, but it was mostly due to Arteta who added skill and sacrifice to the lyrical and aesthetic game that Smith Rowe had. In 11 games he has 4 goals, and 2 assists and is the main reason why Arsenal are fifth in the Premier League. In addition, he comes from scoring a great goal against Watford and earned his first call-up to the England National Team to face the matches against Albania and San Marino for the Qualifiers heading to Qatar 2022.

Did Emile Smith Rowe replace Mesut Ozil at Arsenal? 

Arsenal’s ’10’ had been kept in a drawer all season. Mesut Ozil, relegated to the stands of the Emirates, had taken with him the figure and the work of playmaker in the ‘gunners’… until the emergence of Emile Smith Rowe. “The team looks good with a number 10 like him. It’s the one that makes the difference,” tweeted the German after the 0-4 win over West Bromwich in which the English ‘playmaker’ started for the third consecutive game in the Premier, as Arsenal added their third win in a row.

His appearance in the eleven has coincided with the takeoff of a team that was coming off its worst start since 1974-75 before mending the horrific situation with three straight wins. At 20 years old, Smith Rowe has filled the hole left by his idol. ” I admire Özil. I see him in training and the movements he has, the little touches he does… For me, there is nothing better than being able to train with him every day,” confessed the creative English midfielder with a gap in the first team after burning all the stages since joining the Hale End academy at the age of 10.

How have fans reacted to Emile Smith Rowe?

He is a footballer that all fans have liked from the first day they saw him because of the way he moves, how intelligent he is in the positions he occupies, and his ability to work. He has had a serious shoulder injury this year and he hasn’t trained much with the team, but don’t underestimate him. In the last few weeks, he’s been much more involved and you can see what he brings to the team. “I’m delighted to have a young player of his talent and in his position. We needed him,” said Arsenal coach Mikel Arteta who has decidedly opted for a Smith Rowe who is responding: in his three Premier League starts he has given two assists and in the three in the Europa League he has scored a goal and has had two more assists.

How has Arsenal’s play improved with Emile Smith Rowe?

With him on the pitch, Arsenal have played eight games this season, winning seven and only falling in one (fourth place in the League against Manchester City). His presence is key this Christmas… although his football was already known at the Emirates Stadium for his pre-season debut two years ago in the Far East.” I didn’t hesitate to take my chance. I saw a bit of space and thought ‘I’m going to try and see what happens.I had time to move forward and shoot. I slipped but the ball went in. Emery handed me a suitcase and said, ‘You’re going to Singapore.’ Since then I have not stopped smiling. It’s crazy. I’m enjoying every moment”, said Smith Rowe when in July 2018 he scored a great goal in his debut, at the age of 17, with Arsenal in a friendly against Atletico de Madrid. The ‘gunners’ did not take long to renew him with a professional contract five years old that same summer.

“He is working very hard and has great potential. I am looking forward to helping him grow at the club. His contribution has been enormous. I am very happy with his work on the pitch, but all the training sessions are good,” said Emery, who gave him the alternative on September 20, 2018 against the Ukrainian Vorskla Poltava in the Europa League, becoming the first footballer born in 2000 to do so with the Londoners. And in the victory (0-3) at Qarabag’s home, on October 4, he started and scored his first goal with the seniors at 18 years and 67 days. “He knows how we want to play and he is very humble to continue improving and progressing with us. He does it in every training session and game. If I can say one condition that I would highlight about him, it is his mentality”, highlighted Emery who opened the doors of elite football for him: “He has confidence and is taking responsibility. His performance is constant throughout the match. He is an example for the rest of the youngsters.”

Why did Emile Smith Rowe play for RB Leipzig?

Against Blackpool, in the League Cup, he was great again… but he finished the 2018-19 season on loan at the German RB Leipzig. He landed in the bullring injured and barely played three games. ” He is a footballer with great qualities. He can help us if he recovers and reaches his level because he can play in all offensive positions”, Ralf Rangnick pointed out. He returned to North London last year … and ended the season on loan at Championship side Huddersfield with more prominence (19 appearances, two goals, and three assists). “He only has to worry about playing football. He is young and has his feet on the ground. You have to protect him. I feel bad when he changes him, because it’s something I don’t want to do, explained Danny Cowley, his coach at the ‘terriers’, knowing the diamond he had in his hands.

Emile Smith Rowe: Return to Arsenal

And on his definitive return to Arsenal, having overcome his shoulder injury, the under-17 world champion with England together with Foden, Hudson-Odoi, and Brewster, who won the final (5-2) against Spain is creating a good on field partnership with fellow midfielder Bukayo Saka. This is how his goal against West Bromwich arose. “Smith Rowe comes in, touches and goes, keeps running and Saka knows where he is going to go because he has played with him in the youth team. I am impressed, he has taken on the role that Ozil should play. This shows that Arteta wants this type of player,” said the ‘ex-gunner’ Martin Keown. “Smith Rowe is giving Arsenal something different. It’s a difficult position for someone so young, but it looks like he’s been playing in it for a long time. His pace without the ball is very high,” former England international Gareth Barry opined.

Is Emile Smith Rowe headed for greatness?

Emile Smith Rowe has broken out of his shell. The young English Arsenal footballer, born in the neighborhood of Thornton Heath, in the district of Croydon, in south London, moved to the north of the city with his whole family when he was 10 years old. This happened in 2010, at the time when he became part of the Arsenal youth academy, and debuted with the first team (in the UEFA Europa League) in September 2018. The team was coached by Unai Emery and Smith Rowe was 18 years old.

After leaving on loan to RB Leipzig in 2018-19, where he was barely able to play due to injury, and spending last season at Huddersfield, where he had two goals and two assists in the Championship, Emile Smith Rowe has become one of the great sensations of the Premier League in a very short period of time. Mikel Arteta put him up against Chelsea on Boxing Day, in a match that Arsenal beat Frank Lampard’s men 3-1, and since then the boy has settled into the dynamic of the first team with full merit. Smith Rowe is the cause of the good moments that Arsenal is going through in recent weeks. 

Emile Smith Rowe: Playstyle

Emile Smith Rowe is a midfielder with enough activity ahead of the ball, acting as a hitch in the 4-2-3-1 towards the one that Arteta has turned on the board, and that nature, so different (within the sports structure of the squad) and at the same time so necessary for the team, has given a special value to a player who is allowing Arsenal to be many things at the same time throughout a game.

Emile Smith Rowe is a midfielder who moves quite well in all directions. He has good end to end speed, and also has great lateral movement and agility. He always starts in front of the line of the ball, because he starts behind the ‘9’ in the system that has been dressing Arsenal in recent weeks. From there, despite the fact that this area is, generally, a sector of little time-space due to the positioning of the opposing team, Smith Rowe ensures himself a fairly wide radius of action through his movements. 

However, there is one action that the young Emile Smith Rowe already has perfectly automated in his operating system and that is the one in which he cuts from the inside out, from the midfielder to the right sector, to cross in front of Bukayo Saka, another electrifying young player with Arsenal, and cleanse a crucial area within the system. A move within the game of this Arsenal team activates a series of chain movements that guarantee breadth and depth to the team. 

Emile Smith Rowe is a footballer who has gone through all the lower categories of Arsenal, as well as those of the English team, where he is now, until now, an under-20 international, with which he made his debut in November 2019.

Emile Smith Rowe is right-footed by nature, although he has a fairly positive, if not remarkable, left foot as well. The first interesting detail in the description of his technical skills, which we can even consider as a certainty within his game, since the action zone in which he normally moves there is not even room for oxygen. 

Is Emile Smith Rowe like Mesut Ozil?

In recent weeks he has been in the news again for his looming departure from Arsenal, precisely, to sign for Fenerbahçe, it is interesting to note that Emile Smith Rowe has things (some plays) that seem to be taken directly from Mesut Ozil’s playbook. For example, when he receives the ball on the right wing after cutting out, in the movement that we detailed before in front of Bukayo Saka, Arsenal’s ’32’ has the quality to go inside with the ball under control, relying on driving in his two feet, and at a precise moment of the race, half outlined to shoot with his left leg, not to shoot but to cross the ball diagonally towards his back, in the opposite trajectory to that of his drive, in order to activate the entry from the side blind (against the foot of the rival defense) of the free teammate who attacks the peak of the area. Emile Smith Rowe has stuff like that in his repertoire. Different creative geniuses, unique and achievable only by minds with an inventive capacity above the average.

Another key detail in Emile Smith Rowe’s game is that he not only receives at the foot but also in space. And that’s where his influence begins to be explained to allow the team to attack in different ways, always depending on the scenario, as we pointed out previously. 

Emile Smith Rowe, with his back turned, when Arsenal start the game from their defense and try to settle in the rival field to attack in a positional way, has a strong predilection for dropping into the right sector, in the interval between pivot-midfielder and/or central-lateral of the opposing team, in a position that is perfectly studied on Mikel Arteta’s board. Meanwhile, Bukayo Saka, the winger on that side, always starts very open, and Aubameyang, the winger on the opposite (left) sector, ends up clearing Tierney’s side, his lateral, so that he can sprint to the baseline. 

With Emile Smith Rowe inside, often leaning to that right flank, and a striker with the characteristics of Lacazette in support, compensating from the edge on the other side, Arsenal are completing a circuit in their possessions that they do not need to go through inescapably through their midfield. Emile Smith Rowe has the ability (and enough freedom) to appear indistinctly in all three lanes. And the self-sufficient basic physical attributes, since he is not a footballer who stands out for his height, brute strength or his top speed, to attack the last line, receive space, and stretch in the last third (with measured unchecks to avoid falling offside).

How does Emile Smith Rowe perform under pressure?

Something that Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal is beginning to have quite well mechanized is his play under rival pressure. The team seeks to attract the opponent’s defensive efforts very low to triangulate a few touches, activate the third man option, and attack the spaces that are generated in front of the ball. 

And in those, Emile Smith Rowe works just as well in support, engaging between the lines, as he does in space, attacking through the break the finishing move into transition. 

Technically, with the ball at his foot, he is able to receive with his right foot, his preferred one, and automatically act with his left, to drive or pass, and vice versa. And that ability to manage both legs makes him a difficult element to decipher when he touches the ball. Emile Smith Rowe is an accelerator of the game. Between lines or intervals of the rival team, receiving inside or doing it from the band, the English footballer has a devilish ability to accelerate the pace of the action through his actions, whether or not he intervenes directly within the play. Because his diagonal runs to the outside, when he breaks towards the band to clear Saka’s inside exit with his more skillful leg, are not always activated by a pass that makes him receive the foot or the space near the lime, but even so Smith Rowe has well understood that these movements, very demanding physically and above all mentally, they are much needed to improve (and speed up) the game of this Arsenal squad.

Emile Smith Rowe plays and moves. His football is composed of action, movement, and repetition. And although as a general rule he tries to always play forward, looking for a way to lead the team to the immediate vicinity of the area, his decision-making, with his head held high, leads him not to rush too much with unforced errors that could jeopardize the team’s defensive transition. 

That said, his response after losing the ball is increasingly active. Mikel Arteta is a very insistent coach on his team’s play from the wing, as has been clearly demonstrated in the covid months without an audience in the stadiums, and Emile Smith Rowe (like the whole team in general) responded with quite aggressive pressure when he lost the ball himself. 

The Gunners coach bets on a strong and choral reply every time he loses the ball in the opposite field, with the idea of ​​stealing (giving time to the players furthest from the area where the loss has occurred to position themselves before the foreseeable direct game of the rival team to overcome that pressure) and transit in a few meters to restart their attacks almost by surprise. And that is something that is already in the head of Emile Smith Rowe, who is not a defensive specialist, logically, but even so it is clear that he is working on these concepts, since in more positional defense phases, at times when those that Arsenal must fold, the young Englishman also knows how to close the rival’s passing lanes.

What are some physical gifts of Emile Smith Rowe?

If we previously pointed out that Smith Rome is a footballer who does not stand out, especially for his height or his speed into space, he does, however, have a strong enough lower body to lower the center of gravity with the ball and hide it from the rival. A very valuable resource in the final meters, due to the agglomeration of players that is usually in this area, and also in transition situations, because with this he manages to give each action just enough time before throwing the ball into the hole. 

What is the area which Emile Smith Rowe needs to work on?

His understanding with Saka close to that right profile is very positive for the team, since both can operate directly even without looking at each other. Although here, within this point, there is a detail to highlight that Emile Smith Rowe will have to polish over time. A concept that he will learn and perfect in the coming months, for sure, because it is something that Mikel Arteta has insisted on a lot since his arrival at the Arsenal bench: to preserve and take care of optimal relationship distances between his reception and the position of the passer.

This gesture, which has to do with his reading and his decision-making, is having a hard time getting the point. On many occasions, the teammate who has the ball at that moment gets a little closer than necessary, not trusting his pass from the area that he must occupy and fix so that the system does not lose shape at any height/position, and that is something that Smith Rowe will have to work over time. 

As he is also doing with his resolutions in the final meters, for example. When he steps on the front or directly on the rectangle of the area, the young Englishman always arrives with his head raised, and the simple fact of arriving, accompanying the attacks, and charging the finishing zone, is already a value to be highlighted, since several times he has shot himself between the three suits, but even so, he still has to beat (or save) a second to his own mind to define (passing/shooting) with total clarity. Emile Smith Rowe is an integral cog in this Arsenal machine without ceasing to be a footballer project with a very stimulating potential. 

Completely settled in the day-to-day activities of the team and being quite decisive on weekends, which logically speeds up and enhances any process, Emile Smith Rowe should be deservedly recognized as one of those youngsters who (just like Bukayo Saka or Kieran Tierney) has managed to channel and bring to the surface an Arsenal that until recently was prey to a dynamic that threatened to take everything away, 

Is Emile Smith Rowe a true “Gunner”?

At 20 years old, Emile Smith-Rowe has already gone through two loans, one at RB Leipzig and another at Huddersfield. His experience in Germany was not good, since he did not enjoy his opportunities over there and returned to the Gunner academy after five months.

After several good performances in the Arsenal academy, in which he had been standing out since the youth categories, he left on loan to a national club. Huddersfield Town of the EFL Championship would give him the opportunity to get some good experience and become important in Mikel Arteta’s team.

With the terriers, the midfielder would enjoy minutes, the six-month loan would be fruitful. 19 games in which he played as a midfielder, scored 2 goals and provided 3 assists. But the important thing was not the statistics, the way he created chances and distributed the game made the fans of John Smith’s Stadium fall in love. 

How did Emile Smith Rowe make his way back to Arsenal?

After two loans and his constant performance at a high level in the academy, Mikel Arteta had his eye on him to make up for the absence of veteran playmaker Mesut Ozil. The German had not been signed in the Premier League by the London club, and the lack of midfield creativity was beginning to show. Arteta’s team was missing that player who could hook the midfield and the forward line, and Emile Smith-Rowe when he received the opportunity surprised everyone by doing it wonderfully.

Arteta’s Arsenal is usually a very irregular team, having been away from the “big-six” of the Premier League for years. They are currently eleventh in the table, and this is a result of both their lack of defensive reliability and the few chances they create.

Arsenal focuses its game on possession, amassing a lot of the ball both in defense and in midfield. In this way, they get the rival to jump to the pressure very high and thus create danger from the wings with the speed of Saka, Bellerín, Willian, Aubameyang, etc.

This season the Basque coach has used two systems, 3-4-3 and 4-2-3-1. Both have been used eight times by Arteta, and in both the idea of ​​the game is the same, seeking possession in the mid-low block to launch the attack at speed.

The scoring facet is one of the great duties of this team. Aubameyang ‘s season has not been entirely good and there is no guarantee that he can cover the Gabonese’s scoring rate. Although Alexandre Lacazette has taken the step, scoring 7 goals so far in the competition, the goals scored by Arsenal seem not to be enough to climb the table and sneak into European positions.

Defense and signings form some more issues for Arsenal. There is no player who gives the team that security, although with Mikel Arteta the defensive level has improved. And as for the signings, the history of players who cost the team millions and don’t finish performing is a constant in this club, such as Saliba, Pepe, Willian etc.

Among so much uncertainty, a youth player called Emile Smith-Rowe has knocked on the door of ownership and has made a hole in the eleven in the playmaker. To date, he has played 13 games scoring 2 goals and providing 4 assists in national and European competitions.

How does  Emile Smith-Rowe play?

Emile Smith-Rowe gets along very well with his team-mates and the transition from midfield to forward is handled brilliantly by him, a 20-year-old who plays with the poise of a wily veteran.

Another of his great virtues is the ease of dribbling, he dominates the possession like a charm, and when it is necessary to dribble past the rival he does not hesitate twice. As a good number 10, he is good at all kinds of passes, but the ones he dominates best are passes into space. One of the plays that best defined him is a goal against Fulham that he started with a pass into space that led to a quick combination that ended in a goal by Bukayo Saka.

Perhaps he needed to improve his defensive contribution, but he has the advantage that Arteta does not demand too much from his attacking players. The Englishman has been a breath of fresh air for both Arteta and the fans, who little by little are seeing how the big shoes of Mesut Ozil are being aptly filled by Emile Smith Rowe.

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