Unai Emery says Emile Rowe Smith deserved his start against Atletico Madrid after impressing in training every day since pre-season began.
The 17-year-old England youth international sparkled in a drab International Champions Cup friendly in Singapore, scoring the Gunners equaliser in a 1-1 draw before Atletico won the game on penalties.
Just after the break, Smith Rowe showed quick feet to evade three Atletico defenders before lashing a finish into the top corner. The youngest member of Arsenal’s touring party was then mobbed by his senior teammates.
After the game, Emery underlined how impressed he’s been with the left-sided midfielder since he came to the club.
“I think this is the moment for the young players to show quality like Emile did,” the Spaniard told Arsenal.com.
“Historically, Arsenal has worked with young players to give them the chance to work with the first team, for them to show their quality in each match.
“Today I think that every player played well in this game, against a big team.
“For Smith Rowe to score is very good for him and the team. What’s important for us is that every young player is working very hard.”
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He added: “He is 17 years old but he has grown up in the academy and we need to give the young players the opportunity to work with us every day and play matches like today.
“They are working hard in training to be involved with the first team. Today I am very happy with his work on the pitch, but not only today.
“It’s every day. He’s starting today’s match because his performances have been good in every training session.”
Smith Rowe will have another chance to shine on Saturday when the Gunners return to the Singapore National Stadium for a match against Emery’s old club Paris Saint Germain.