With a 3-1 victory over Chelsea on Boxing Day, Arsenal and Emile Smith Rowe’s 2020/21 season improved. The Gunners were struggling in the Premier League before the festive season. Despite a perfect winning record in the Europa League group stage, they were in a relegation battle realistically.
Reflecting on events ahead of his first campaign league launch, the 20-year-old has revealed that before learning of Arteta’s intentions, he felt he was in trouble. “I found out I was in the starting XI against Chelsea on the day of the game,” he told Arsenal media. “I had a knock on my hotel room door and it was one of the coaches basically saying ‘the manager would like to speak to you downstairs”
“I was thinking ‘am I in trouble, have I done something wrong?’ So I’ve gone down there and he’s sat down in a chair and kind of just looked at me and said ‘I’ve got good news, you’re starting tonight’, he had the tactics board in front of him and showed me where I was playing and what I should do.
He gave me so much confidence. I was so surprised, my heart was beating so quickly, it was such a big game against a big team like Chelsea. “I
was really nervous, but at the same time it was a big moment.”
Smith Rowe has become undroppable for Arteta in the Premier League. Since that win over Chelsea, he has started the next seven games in a row and weighing in with two more assists. “Smith Rowe, I think Arsenal have been crying out all season for a creative player and he showed he deserved his place today.
At 20 he has come through the ranks. They’ve got [Reiss] Nelson, [Bukayo] Saka who was outstanding. And I think in Kieran Tierney, they have brought in a player for £25m. An absolute bargain. This bunch of players is what you need to build on with Arsenal going forward.” Arteta said.