Mikel Arteta has praised Emile Smith Rowe’s consistency and acknowledged that the return of the midfielder came for Arsenal at the right moment. The 20-year-old had to wait patiently for his chance this season after sustaining a shoulder injury and even played in the EFL Trophy in November for the Gunners’ Under-21 side before getting the call to play for the senior side.
After bad results in December, Arteta used the academy graduate on Boxing Day in a 3-1 victory over Chelsea and was rewarded with a solid score, which he followed up three days later with another good performance in the Brighton win. A post shared by ESR (@emilesmithrowe) The back-to-back performances were just Smith Rowe’s second and third in the Premier League and he was lauded by his manager ahead of a potential fourth outing at West Brom on Saturday. Arteta said, “He’s a player I really liked from the first day I watched him. The way he moves, how intelligently he takes up his positions and his work rate – you shouldn’t underestimate it. ” He’s been much more involved in the last two weeks and you can see what he can add to the squad. I’m very happy to have a young player in this role with his talent. After a few Europa League appearances, Smith Rowe’s calls for fans to start in the Premier League alongside Gabriel Martinelli became louder and louder and Arteta was forced to miss out on Boxing Day because he was unavailable. We haven’t been able to see them play alongside each other for different reasons this season yet, and that will take some time as well. “In the end, the speed of a second in attack is the most difficult thing in soccer, and you have to create chemistry between the players. “West Brom would present a unique challenge if chosen for the young duo of Smith Rowe and Martinelli, and also for central defender Pablo Mari, who is for the third year in a row in the starting eleven. He was another player who impressed with Gabriel and David Luiz absent in the win over Chelsea, and Arteta is optimistic he can deal with a Sam Allardyce squad. “Pablo will be fine,” insisted the 38-year-old. “We’ve often told new players, ‘Welcome to the Premier League when it’s winter and it’s freezing cold, the pitch isn’t great and it’s windy.’ You’re going to face long balls, duels in the air and physical teams, but in this league you’ve got to get through it. “Sam Allardyce had several unforgettable fights with Arsenal when they were under the leadership of Arsene Wenger (Daniel Hambury/PA). For the 35th time in his coaching career, he will be facing Arsenal. He added: “When you play against Sam, you know they are going to compete and make it really difficult, and he has a style and identity that makes his teams efficient. “When you build that rivalry, it’s because the team struggles from playing against him, so he really, really well does his job. “What he has done in the Premier League in the many years he has been there is remarkable. With many different teams, situations, and he still always managed to get the result he was looking for.”