Morning peeps, hope we’re all good, feeling dandy and looking forward to an enjoyable Sunday?
Emile Smith Rowe will be a happy chap oh waking up this morning, won’t he? He and his England under-21 teammates won the under-21 Euros last night and in it he secured himself a lovely ol’ bit of silverware that will give him and boost and I hope prove the perfect tonic for him to attack next season with The Arsenal.
He’s already been told by the club and Arteta that he was part of the plans after a supposed meeting at the end of the season, he’s managed to get through this tournament with some goals and assists and yesterday he played 67 minutes in the final helping the team to beat the Spanish 1-0. Life should feel pretty good for ESR right now.
And my hope is that he uses this as the springboard for an excellent season next season. He spent last summer not really training that much and so didn’t get much of a pre season and that meant that he didn’t really get the opportunity to start the season on a level fitness playing field as some of his teammates. Then, as we now know, he struggled because of his groin (I think it was that) and it meant he never fully got back up to full fitness, resulting in that injury at the end of the Man United game where I think he picked it up in the warm down if I remember. We then missed him for a big chunk of the season as a result and by the time he was really up and running Mikel wasn’t happy about trusting him regularly and he found himself down the pecking order.
Now is the time for him to make his mark. Martin Ødegaard posted a video on Arsenal’s website and in it he got the whole team to say they are backing him and hoping he wins. It was a lovely touch and I thought showed a togetherness and unity from this group of players. They seem to be a collective of guys who really do all get on, they are all on the same boat and pulling together in the same direction. They’re all so likeable as well. How long has it been since we’ve had a group of players like that, eh?
Anyway, Emile has his trophy and where I said that he was behind everyone else because of injury last summer, this time he can actually steal a march from a fitness side of things because he’s been at the under-21s tournament. He could tell Mikel he’ll meet everyone in Germany and be ready and willing to play next week. Imagine the impression and focus it shows to Arteta if Smith Rowe rocks up and is like “I’m here, I’m fit, I’m ready to fight for my place and show my commitment”. I think that could go down really well and I hope if that happens Mikel says “right, here’s your shit then”.
Of course where that shot is remains to be seen. Does he displace Martinelli on the left wing? I don’t think so. With the introduction of Zinchenko we changed the style and approach on that left side from two years ago, where Smith Rowe often played well in partnership with Tierney on the overlap. But now we have Zinchenko coming in field as our left back and limited game time for Tierney, it means we have a wide forward who needs to hold a little more width and then use Martinelli’s explosive pace to run in behind. Smith Rowe is more of a guy who is good with the ball at his feet running at players. So the position on the left feels like it’s changed.
So perhaps he needs to shift to the middle and play as and eight? That certainly feels like it is more naturally suited to him stylistically when you think about the way we play, but the challenge he has there is that it looks like there’s a fair bit of congestion in that part of the pitch. Ødegaard, Vieira, Havertz (if we assume that he’s playing as a midfielder), we saw Trossard play it a little at the end of the season, we also have people talking about how Rice – when he arrives – could also potentially play that position. That’s especially true if they keep Partey and he sits in the base of our midfield as a six. If that happens you’d think that it’ll make it even harder for ESR because Arteta isn’t going to leave out a £100million player sat on the bench. He’s going to play. And even if he doesn’t play as an eight, if Partey is still at the club you’d think we might have games where we’re playing with two deeper-lying players like Partey and Rice, which again probably means you’re playing Ødegaard in front and there’s one less position for ESR to occupy. And we all know that he isn’t getting in ahead of the captain.
So it’s going to be tough for Emile, but he has credit in the bank with the fans, I think Arteta knows his quality having seen him get to double figures a few seasons ago in goals and assists, plus if he shows how much he is willing to fight this pre season, we could have a situation in which he’s got this summer to show he can break in to this team.
I think that’s it from me for today. Got a run, some shopping, plus maybe a cheeky BBQ to be done later this evening. Amanda will be on the Same Old Arsenal pod tonight at 7.30pm so tune in to get your latest Arsenal fix here.