Emile Smith Rowe says he and Bukayo Saka are benefitting from the support of Arsenal’s senior players as they look to up their game in and around the box.

Both on the scoresheet in the north London derby, the pair carried their goalscoring form into the Interlull with Smith Rowe netting in a man of the match performance for England under-21s against Andorra and Saka doing the same for the senior squad.

Challenged to up their stats by Mikel Arteta, the signs are positive that hard work on the training ground is paying off.

“[Arteta] has spoken to us and given us so much confidence to stay calm,” Smith Rowe told reporters. 

“We know we’re going to be getting into these positions. Because we’re both young players we’ve got to stay as calm as possible and just focus on the goal really.

“We’ve been practising a lot in training, after training and we get the support from the experienced players in the team as well, they’re always helping us. It’s really good at Arsenal, we’re really happy with the help we’re getting.”

Smith Rowe isn’t just benefitting from life alongside Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alex Lacazette. Arsenal confirmed last week that former midfielder Jack Wilshere is also training with the club.

While the former England international, 29, is there to maintain fitness and work on his coaching badges, he’s also keeping a close eye on the Gunners’ young talent and we wouldn’t be surprised if he’s sharing a few tips of his own.

“He [Smith Rowe] is a player that I really like,” said Wilshere in an interview with Sky Sports.

“He came into the team really last year and sort of made the position his but I think this season, even in the bad results he was the one player, the one shining light.

“He carries the ball so well in that transition from defence to attack. He is crucial to how this team wants to play.

He added: “He had a great season last season. But this season, the consistency, at such a young age to be Arsenal’s, for me either him or Saka, probably him their best player this season so far is credit to him.”

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Johnny 4 Hats

I always feel really sorry for Jack when people talk about Patino, Azeez or The Smith as “the new Wilshere”. I feel like you should only use that label once the player is fully retired.

What a way to make you feel like you’ve been well and truly replaced in the game. Especially when you are desperately trying to save your career at the tender age of 29.

UzesGooner

Jack could use it as motivation I guess and make a Rocky II comeback? The future looks bright though, Azeez and Patino look ideal. I’d love Isak to join in the summer to complete the youth set up 👌

Johan

More like Rocky V I think.

Interesting article in The Guardian today about former players of the youth team joining current youth teams in various clubs to support promising youngsters make the step up. Jack may feel like he still has much more to give, but I’d quite like to see him in such a role.

https://www.theguardian.com/football/2021/oct/12/ageing-players-signed-to-guide-premier-league-wannabes-brighton-under-23s

PeteyB

That’s a nice article from Guardian there, thanks. Could be an ideal role for Wiltshire, at least in the short term.

Modha

Totally get where you’re coming from, can’t be easy to be almost classed as a has been at such a young age. But at the same time, maybe him knowing all the mistakes he made, and the injuries he suffered, he can keep those young players feet on the ground. A bit like Diaby, I feel if he hadn’t had the injuries, we’d have achieved so much more

Johnny 4 Hats

I’ve heard a few people mention personal mistakes Jack made. I remember the smoking thing but that wouldn’t hold back a career.

What else is being referred to here? As far as I was aware his attitude was always good and it was solely injuries that thwarted him. Interested to know what else was going on….

Johan

Leaving for Bournemouth on loan, failing to stand out in a team fighting in the bottom half of the table wasn’t a great decision for his career, but maybe what he needed in his personal life at the time.

PeteyB

I have no issues with him going and trying to play regularly. The fact he was unable to stand out was probably reflective of how broken he was/is. There is a reason (probably multiple little reasons) that at the age of 29 he is back training with us as a free agent. Both he and Diaby were largely victims of misfortune. Maybe thier playing styles contributed, but others take kicks and come bouncing back. Without trying to suggest Jack would have won Ballon DOr (cough, he definitely would have, cough) I don’t think it’s coincidence that Messi and Ronaldo reached… Read more »

Johan

Great point. Just to clarify, I don’t have an issue either with Jack trying to ensure his playing time, especially as he was returning from another long injury if I remember correctly. I do wonder whether fighting for his place or going abroad (where I think he had offers from some big clubs?) might have served his career better, though as you say, maybe he was so broken at this point already that it wouldn’t have made a difference.

Goonerrific

When, and only when The Smith and Saka serenade us with a rendition of “what do you think of Tottenham” will they reach Wilshere status.

We’re waiting… hahaha

Vonnie

Drinking, smoking and fighting in nightclubs, he was a bit of a twat off the pitch, the young players now are far more professional in their approach.

Johnny 4 Hats

Drinking, smoking, fighting in nightclubs.

Anyone here not done that?

Not condoning it, but that’s pretty standard behaviour. Shouldn’t impinge a career as bright as Jack’s. After all, you can be a racist and still captain club and country.

Qwaliteee

Really………..?

Footballers today indulge in antisocial behaviour, don’t you worry – nothing’s changed.

Look at Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood.

Less of the ageist sweeping statements.

mc1892

Two 18/19 year olds taking two girls back to their hotel room is ‘anti-social behaviour’? Give me strength.

Footballers are very clearly more openly considerate of their social impact than before. Whether that’s because social media and the internet make it easier to publicise, and less easy to get away with more questionable behaviour, is another debate, but it’s pretty plain to see. Nothing ageist about it.

Qwaliteee

’The young players now’ is bracketing – and, in the context of the post, whether you like it or not, ageist.

Not everyone who played professional football up until a couple of years ago behaved off the pitch like George Best, the same way as not everyone today behaves like Gary Lineker did.

Mc1892

If you wish to view it that way sure. I view it more as players now are playing a completely different game to those even 20 years ago. It’s not criticism to say they are different, nor am I saying either is superior, simply an observation.
19 year old players in the 90s weren’t on £30k a week (or the equivalent), is it any wonder they behave differently?

Mc1892

Not sure as to where you live, but I live and grew up a stones throw from the Emirates. The Bank of Friendship pub was renowned for Merse et al heading there during the week and after games. That could never happen now.
Again, I drink alcohol- I’m not suggesting it shouldn’t happen, merely that the behaviour is different.

Charles Charlie Charles

I can’t think of anything more anti-social than breaking Covid guidelines. You can be sure that’s why they were sent home.

Eduar-do a deer

I could.

Almost anything.

Qwaliteee

Yeah.

It’s people who think and act like you that are the reason why it’s taken this planet so fucking long for us all to return to something approaching normality.

Eduar-do a deer

Ah, that’s why the countries with the harshest lockdowns had the least deaths.

Wait a minute. No they didn’t!

Qwaliteee

And what about the millions of deaths?

Explain that, Einstein.

Charles Charlie Charles

These ‘young players now’, do they include Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood?

Vonnie

The comment was in an Arsenal context, you don’t see Saka or Smith Rowe or our other youngsters legless and behaving like idiots, the club wouldn’t allow it.

Qwaliteee

Move the goal posts again, why don’t you?

🤣

Ben

I agree – this is often a stick he’s beaten with but beyond the odd scrap or nightclub silliness (which plenty of other players get reported doing) is there something more?

Qwaliteee

It’s usually a stick that he’s beaten with from rival fans – which has mitigating circumstances.

It’s those ‘Arsenal fans’ who were still knocking back their politically correct gripe water when Jack was playing who’ve seemingly got a problem with him.

C.B.

I loved Wilshere but reckon both of Saka and ESR are better than him.

Henkamp

There’s no need to compare. Just appreciate the fact they were all forged in our academy.

I watched Wilshere in his breakthrough season and he was a fucking beast — a different breed from all the other English midfielders at the time. A shame he wasn’t protected enough.

Tapps

100% this!

C.B.

Agreed, very talented. Saw him slot an amazing goal in the top corner in a youth match.

Would have loved him to have succeeded, shame about hte injuries.

Brady’s bunch

Have to agree with you jack was a stand out talent that should have been world class

Vonnie

So it’s OK to continuously compare young players to him but not OK to compare him to them? I agree with CB that they’re better than him, they’re also more intelligent and professional.

Qwaliteee

The Wilshere hatred continues.

Yawn………

Charles Charlie Charles

But, as of yet, they haven’t torn a Barca midfield to shreds in an ECL tie.

mc1892

I was at that game. Nothing was ‘torn to shreds’, simply he had an incredible game in escaping pressure and providing some (brief) respite from Barca possession. He was excellent, no doubt, but people seem to remember it differently to the reality.

Qwaliteee

I was at that game too.

I don’t know what match you were watching pal, but we ripped Barcelona a new one – and nearly required a new roof on the Emirates afterwards.

😇🚗Zola

Wilshere bossing Barca’s midfield at 16 years old, arguably the best midfield of all time in the best team of all time, is one of the greatest individual Arsenal performances since we left Highbury.

The only way Saka and ESR might be better is if they are more consistent then Wilshere and that had more to do with his injuries then anything else.

martinhaze

I think he was 18 when he bossed the Barca midfield, with Fabregas alongside him, and that glorious pass to set-up Arshavin’s winner.

Guy

I believe he was 19 at the time.
Still, incredible!

😇🚗Zola

Correct. He made his senior debut and that game was indeed when he was 19. Conflated the 2.

😇🚗Zola

*made his senior debut at 16

loose_cannon

Only a matter of time before he joins Saka in the senior set up. After Ox and Theo left we went through a long period without any serious representation in the England team. So it’s a testament to the quality of our academy that we’re producing them at a time where the national side is so competitive. We might have had more if AMN had stuck to full back as well.

PicoBello

I love you, Émile. That’s all I want to say. You are my new Santi (in terms of how I like a player). Be good, play well, behave 😊

mc1892

I wonder whether ESR sneaks into the England WC team if he carries on this early season form. Don’t get me wrong, I jumped on the Grealish bandwagon during the Euros, and think he’s exceptional, but he wasn’t doing what ESR is at 21. And he’s not really pulling up trees at City. I think Mount is a very good player (better than I previously thought having now lived with a Chelsea fan and seen him a fair bit), but I still think ESR is a much better decision maker than he is. Smith Rowe really reminds me of Pires.… Read more »

Goonerink

Some players perform better for club than country, mount is one of them.

Cranky Colin

ESR and Saka! What’s not to like?

However, I worry about Pepe and Gabi. Stay with me for a second.
Oodegard always plays, which largely gives ESR a No 8 free role, and Saka goes onto one of the wings ( loosely).
Can anyone explain why we need this formula which in itself limits Martinelli and Pepes involvement, both of whom could increase our attacking dynamic.
In a nutshell, what’s the big deal with Martin?

Jack

Depends if we use a double holding midfield or single. If we can get 4 3 3 then we can get Smith rowe and odegaard as 2 cams and then saka and pepe as 2 wingers and then auba. If a double holding midfield then xhaka replaces pepe. Those seem to be the current best formations, no room for gabi. Think we just need to give it time.

Nketibag

Agree in theory, but in practice the details need to change. We tried this 433 against Burnley and the attack was completely dysfunctional. For me, Pepe and Saka actually need to be as close together as they can. So I would play Saka right and Odegaard left as free 8/10s, with Smith Rowe keeping his position on the LW. He right-footedness allows Tierney to overlap, if you have a lefty out there it does not work. Whilst Pepe needs Saka close to him to combine. That is the formula Arteta has to try.

Johan

If Pepe was a right footed winger hugging the line, I’d agree with you, but as it is, he and Saka like to occupy the same spaces and I can’t see placing them next to each other as a solution.

I had half expected us to buy an overlapping right back to support our left footed wide players to drift infield where they prefer to operate. This is not a criticism of Tomiyasu at all.

Brady’s bunch

Can’t see Pepe nailing down a spot on this team he’s too inconsistent. Very frustrating player to watch for me.

Nketibag

I’m not so sure, I think Pepe and Saka can dovetail quite nicely. We have seen it before. In the Burnley game the two linked up superbly to send Pepe behind. Even stylistically they are different, Saka comes more to feet, whilst Pepe runs in behind. This solution also gets Odegaard over to the left of centre midfield. Where I think he is more than capable of playing a bit deeper. I feel this, mimicking xhaka to an extent, will give great balance to the left side. I completely agree about Tomiyasu though. It is a strange decision to have… Read more »

cannon and ball and arse'n'all

Agree with this – Odegaard just played in a 4 3 3 for Norway as the right side of the mid 3, he got MoM with a 9.7 on sofascore without a goal or assist in a 5 1 win (albeit only against Gibraltar). With the right DCM (Partey) I think that there is potential to play both Odegaard and ESR in CM, similar to how Mount and Foden are being deployed alongside Rice for England i a 4 3 3 this evening

Merlin’s Panini

The big deal with Odegaard is that he links the midfield and attack like no one else in the squad can. You could put him deep, behind the striker or on the wing and he would provide transitions with clever passing and movement. He has the passing range of Xhaka, the mobility of Smith Rowe and an eye for an intelligent ball at the right moment. Not to the level of Ozil but exceptional none the less. Odegaard is not flashy but he’s the player things move through. Without him we’re disjointed.

cannon and ball and arse'n'all

Interesting that Wilshire raises the transition aspect… I always felt Jack would become one of the best transition midfielders in the game, he just had all of the ingredients. He could receive the ball on the front and the back foot, take it on the half turn and transition from defence to attack very quickly (like Santi). ESR undoubtedly has these abilities, and whilst he and Odegaard are discussed as no.10s / attacking mids, I think both of them have the ability to fit in as attacking no.8s depending on the formation… Very excited to see how ESR develops, he… Read more »

Kostas

Upvote if you think current Wilshere > current Xhaka

Merlin’s Panini

We cannot possibly say how good Wilshere is right now. He’s not really played. Furthermore, Xhaka has just had his first big injury and there’s no way of knowing how well he comes back from it. They’re also stylistically completely different with different attributes. Not comparable for me, apart from that Xhaka looks like Cristiano Ronaldo would if you put Jack’s face on him.

Kostas

Upvote if you think Wilshere’s Arsenal overall career was better than Xhaka’s. Downvote otherwise

monkeyjackson

Maybe he learns something from the young guys too. about training hard and just focusing on the goal. thats his only chance to come back on a top level. and no injuries at least for 3 years

BillyKrystal

Was funny seeing Mavropanos give away a penalty against Alex Isak today. Isak for 60 mill would be the steal of the century, he already looks like a special player and his hype started years ago. I’m sure he has his pick of suitors, but if he looked at Arsenal as a stepping stone then by all means step on up. If ol’ Dinos plays his cards right he could be hacking down Isak at Londdon Colney next year.

Vonnie

Dinos is already sold.

Johan

I think Stuttgart is obliged to purchase him at the end of the season for peanuts, unless they are relegated, so theoretically he could still be back at Arsenal.

Rich

Smith Rowe’s first touch is insane

Brilliant footballer

Qwaliteee

Off topic, but just want to give a shout out to Paul Merson for his bravery in fighting his gambling and drink addictions.

A superb and, by turns, disturbing, heartbreaking and briefly (where it showed him playing with his kids in their garden) heartwarming documentary.

I’m sure as Arsenal fans, we can all join together here and wish Paul and his family all the very best for the future.

He’s one of our own and he needs our support now more than ever.

Charles Charlie Charles

A nice post, Qwaliteee. I watched it too, very harrowing viewing in places. I don’t know what sort of moron could downvote this.

C.B.