As Arsenal beat Qarabag this Thursday, icing on the cake was undoubtedly first senior goal for teenage sensation Emile Smith Rowe in the 3-0 victory. The attacking midfielder has caught the eye of many fans after a brilliant pre-season and now featuring for the club in the Carabao Cup as well as the Europa League.
18 – Emile Smith-Rowe (18y 67d) is the youngest player to score for Arsenal in a competitive game since Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain against Olympiakos in September 2011 (18y 43d). Blossom. pic.twitter.com/gT8VT8g1wd
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) October 4, 2018
The 18-year-old joined the academy at the age of 10 in 2010. Six years later, Smith Rowe found himself playing for Gunner’s U-23. After making 11 appearances in the 2017-18 season in the U-23, new manager Unai Emery decided to feature the English midfielder in the pre-season where he took no time to impress fans with his sharp turns and exceptional vision.
A stunning goal to draw level with Atletico Madrid as well as an assist against PSG on his 18th birthday sufficed to prove Smith Rowe’s ability to make runs and have an eagle eye for goals in the final third.
Subsequent to the pre-season it was well obvious that Arsenal’s new golden boy deserved a professional contract and fortunately the coaching staff saw eye-to-eye with the fans on this matter as Smith Rowe signed a new long-term professional contract with Arsenal on 31 July 2018, when he was described by head coach Unai Emery as having “lots of potential.”
Other than his potentially remarkable club career, the 18-year-old has enjoyed quite a distinguished international run for England. Capped by England at U-16, U-17 and U-18 level whilst progressing through the ranks at Arsenal, Smith Rowe was part of the England U-17 squad that went on to lift the World Cup.
When the gaffer was questioned on which of the teenager’s qualities made him include Smith Rowe in the XI against Qarabag, he answered,
“If I can say one condition, for me, it’s his mentality.
He is humble and he is humble to listen every day in training, in the video analysis and also before the match to continue improving and to keep taking one step more, like today.
The last matches he played, for example against Brentford, he had three actions in the opposition boxes and didn’t score.
But today, he had two and one was a goal.”
– Emery on Smith Rowe
Emile Smith Rowe gave Arsenal fans plenty to be excited about on Thursday, but what's Unai Emery most thrilled with? pic.twitter.com/glK4qq7CBQ
— Goal (@goal) October 5, 2018
It is understood that there were offers on the table for Smith Rowe to spend the 2018/19 campaign out on loan, but he chose to stay in North London and wait patiently for his chance. Well it looks like his patience is paying off as the English teenager has caught the eye of fans, pundits and former players and recieved some well-deserved praise.
“Fighting for a place was a chance I took and I am happy I have taken it because now he is really happy with me, he helps me a lot and to get the chances I am getting now is crazy.
There’s no other place I’d rather be.”
– Smith Rowe
I believe that Emile Smith Rowe will do wonders at The Emirates in the future. It is of course too early for him to feature regularly in the Premier League but with time, I think he’ll be a crucial part of the club’s attack. I think at this time a loan move is what I would’ve preferred to get guaranteed regular game-time but as long as the manager has faith in our rising star, there are no complaints from my side. I expect Smith Rowe to feature consistently in the Carabao Cup and Europa League and make the most of his chances which will surely be coming now in due course.