Emile Smith Rowe has praised Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta for giving young players like himself and Bukayo Saka confidence as the pair look to improve their production in front of goal.

Smith Rowe (21) and Saka (20) were both on target against Andorra during the international break, the former with the Under-21s side and the latter with the senior squad.

Saka scored the second goal of a 5-0 rout on October 9, while Smith Rowe slotted home the only goal of the game two days later after Rhian Brewster's sending-off had reduced the Young Lions to 10 men.

The pair rank in the top four for both expected goals and expected assists across all competitions among Arsenal players to have played at least 300 minutes this season.

Smith Rowe largely credits Arteta for their development, with senior Gunners stars also taking the time to help them out.

"[Arteta] has spoken to us and given us so much confidence to stay calm," said Smith Rowe.

"[Saka and I] 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."

New England U21s head coach Lee Carsley had special praise for Smith Rowe, believing that the attacking midfielder – who has frequently played on the left for Arsenal – has the ability to score, create and beat his man.

"With any wide player they are always judged on goals and assists and Emile has got the ability to do both," said Carsley.

"I've seen him in training, the way he finds the corners and finishes very calmly, he finishes like a centre forward at times and the opposite to that is that he has got that last pass which is really important.

"That's why I'm keen on getting him in really attacking positions more often, the higher up we can get him and the more we can get him one-vs-one he'll create a lot of problems like he does at Arsenal."

The Gunners will hope both their young Hale End graduates can make a positive impact when Crystal Palace visit Emirates Stadium on October 18 as Premier League action resumes.

Gareth Southgate backed Harry Kane to return to form with England as they prepare for October's World Cup qualifiers.

Southgate's side are set to face Andorra and Hungary but their captain Kane comes into next month's internationals out of form with Tottenham.

Despite collecting the Premier League Golden Boot last campaign, the 28-year-old has struggled this term, failing to score or assist in 378 top-flight minutes - attempting just nine shots and creating only four chances.

Kane's international form, by contrast, has not dropped, with the forward netting in 15 consecutive games across the World Cup and European Championship qualifiers.

However, Southgate remained firm on his stance about his star striker as he expressed his support for Kane, who is on his longest drought since August 2016.

"I can only talk from an England perspective," Southgate responded to reporters when asked about Kane's lack of form on Thursday after announcing his 23-man squad.

"Every couple of months I sit here and have to answer similar questions, and then Harry goes out and scores a lot of goals for us.

"That's the life of a high-profile player - you have to accept there's going to be that speculation and intensity, that analysis of performances.

"Last month we had three games, he played in all three and scored goals in all three. He's still a critical part of what we do and I'm sure he's going to be highly motivated when he comes to see us next week.

"He's closing in on a number of incredible goalscorers. We had the sad news of Jimmy Greaves in the last couple of weeks, and Harry is in that echelon of incredible names."

Tottenham were most recently downed 3-1 by fierce rivals Arsenal, with Kane making just five passes and recording 25 touches across 90 minutes at Emirates Stadium.

Youngster Emile Smith-Rowe was on the scoresheet for the Gunners and, despite impressing, Southgate wants the Arsenal academy product to maintain his form if he is to earn a place in the England squad.

"[Smith-Rowe] is a player we like a lot and was very close to making this squad," Southgate answered when asked about a potential call-up for the 21-year-old.

"At this moment in time I don't want to bring in any more younger players out of the Under-21s. They have got to earn that right over a longer period.

"I thought his performance against Tottenham was very good. We know how he finished last season as well. I can only say he is a player we really like and he was close."

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang said Arsenal's youngsters played with freedom after the Gunners cruised to a 3-1 derby victory over Tottenham.

Emile Smith Rowe turned in a star display as he scored Arsenal's opener before teeing up Aubameyang to double their advantage at Emirates Stadium.

In a blistering first-half display from Mikel Arteta's side, Bukayo Saka made it 3-0 after Arsenal capitalised on Harry Kane's error in the 34th minute.

Son Heung-min netted a late consolation for sorry Spurs, who also hit the crossbar late on, though Nuno Espirito Santo's side were deservedly beaten as they suffered a third successive top-flight defeat. Tottenham are only the second team in Premier League history to win their first three games of a season and then lose the next three, after Everton in 1993-94.

"It means everything. It means the world to us. We gave everything for them today. The fans give us everything. They push us. It's an amazing feeling, unbelievable," Arsenal captain Aubameyang told Sky Sports, as he spoke alongside Smith Rowe.

Asked if he offered guidance to Arsenal's younger players, Aubameyang said: "These boys are great guys, they're doing well, and I'm happy that my kids will grow up [in London] and one day be maybe like [Smith Rowe].

"It's quite easy when you have boys like this who always listen and are ready to learn. So I try to give them some advice.

"The most important thing is they feel free as they play. This is what they did today. They are doing amazing."

Smith Rowe created two chances and scored with his only shot in a scintillating performance. With his goal having been teed up by Saka, the duo have now assisted one another five times in the Premier League. Among players both aged 21 or younger, only Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney (eight) have teed each other up more often in the competition's history.

"I've always dreamt of this day, to score for Arsenal against Tottenham. To have my family here as well, it's just the best feeling ever," said Smith Rowe, before explaining Arteta's influence.

"He just tells us to keep calm. We're young players in a massive game. He just encourages us so much and gives us so much confidence. Not just the manager, but the players in the team as well, they give us so much confidence."

After heading into the last international break bottom of the table, having lost their opening three games by an aggregate score of 9-0, including a 5-0 thumping by Manchester City, Arsenal have now overtaken a Spurs side who were top at the end of August.

It is the first time Arsenal have ended a day of Premier League action above Spurs since October 25, 2020.

"We are doing a good run for a couple of games now," said Aubameyang.

"After the game against Manchester City it was time to have a chat between us players and this is what we did. We want to go forward and win games.

"This was important for us to make everything clear. We are doing well right now and the feeling is very good."

Arsenal claimed consecutive Premier League victories over Tottenham for the first time since 2014 as they eased past their North London rivals 3-1.

Having initially made a strong start to life under Nuno Espirito Santo, Spurs have now lost three successive league games, with their manager seeing his first derby effectively lost inside the first 45 minutes.

Emile Smith Rowe's 12th-minute strike gave Arsenal a deserved lead, which was doubled when he teed up Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 15 minutes later.

Spurs offered limp resistance and the game was essentially put to bed by the excellent Bukayo Saka, with Son Heung-min's effort a mere consolation for Tottenham.

Smith Rowe rewarded Arsenal for a bright start when he drifted towards the near post to slot Saka's clever low delivery beyond a rooted Hugo Lloris.

Thomas Partey tested Lloris from range and Aubameyang fired a long-range effort narrowly over the crossbar before Spurs threatened a riposte through Son, who forced Aaron Ramsdale to turn behind from a tight angle.

Aubameyang found the desired accuracy to double Arsenal's lead as Spurs were caught on the counter, the Gabon forward freeing Smith Rowe down the left with a neat backheel and then firing into the bottom-right corner from the eventual return pass.

Tottenham failed to learn their lesson and were undone by another Arsenal break. It was Saka this time who was given the freedom of one flank, and he surged into the open space to tuck home after seeing Harry Kane block his attempted pass to Aubameyang.

After his defensive efforts fell short, Kane then missed a glaring opportunity to offer a more traditional contribution to proceedings as he headed wide unmarked from a corner, encapsulating an awful first half for Spurs.

Kane did draw a save from Ramsdale on the hour mark and then beat the Arsenal goalkeeper, only to see his dinked effort drift wide of the right-hand post.

Son side-footed beyond Ramsdale, with Granit Xhaka injured in the build-up, but those were the only blots on a superb day for Arsenal, who survived an injury-time scare when their goalkeeper tipped a Lucas Moura strike onto the crossbar.

Mikel Arteta does not believe the return of Martin Odegaard will hamper Emile Smith Rowe's progress, instead believing the move is important to "protect" Arsenal's number 10.

Arsenal announced two new signings on Friday, with Odegaard followed to Emirates Stadium by goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale.

Odegaard is already familiar with his surroundings, though, having spent the second half of the 2020-21 season on loan from Real Madrid.

During that time, he started just eight times alongside Smith Rowe in all competitions, although Arsenal won five of those matches.

Now back as a permanent signing, there could be concern Odegaard will limit opportunities for Smith Rowe, who has penned an improved contract and taken on a more prominent role for the new season following interest from Aston Villa.

While the pair are similar players, Odegaard is further ahead in his development and had a greater impact in the final third last term.

He created 2.1 chances and had 1.6 shots per 90 minutes, while Smith Rowe forged 1.7 opportunities and had 0.8 attempts.

But this issue was put to Arteta and he was not concerned, citing Smith Rowe's relative inexperience having made his senior league bow with RB Leipzig in 2019 – five years after Odegaard broke into the Stromsgodset side as a 15-year-old.

"It's the contrary," the Gunners manager said. "What we want is to have Emile in a better place to develop him and have alternatives in that position.

"They are players that can play perfectly together – they showed that last year – and we cannot rely on one player. We already lost a lot of creative players.

"We cannot rely on one player with all the things he showed us, because Emile has never played 50 games at that level yet in his career.

"We will need to protect him and, for sure, we need other players that are able to do that as well."

Emile Smith Rowe will wear the number 10 shirt for Arsenal in 2021-22, with the midfielder having also agreed to a new contract.

Smith Rowe enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2020-21, with the 20-year-old making 33 appearances across all competitions.

In total, Smith Rowe scored four goals and contributed seven assists, the latter being a joint-high for Arsenal alongside Willian and fellow academy graduate Bukayo Saka.

Smith Rowe's big chance conversion rate of 60 per cent (3/5) also ranked him top of Arsenal's squad last term (minimum of two big chances).

Though it was his creativity that made Smith Rowe so effective. His 37 open-play key passes was only bettered by Kieran Tierney (41) and Saka (39) in the Gunners side, though both of them played at least 700 more minutes than him. The midfielder's 1.5 chances created per game was second only to Martin Odegaard (2.2 – minimum 100 minutes played).

However, his future had not been certain. With Arsenal reportedly looking to make Odegaard's move from Real Madrid permanent, Aston Villa had seen a series of bids rejected for Smith Rowe earlier in the transfer window.

But with Odegaard seemingly unobtainable, Arsenal have now tied Smith Rowe down to a new deal, though the Gunners did not specify the length of the contract.

Smith Rowe has also been given the number 10 shirt, which was last occupied by Mesut Ozil – the number is perhaps best associated in recent memory with Dennis Bergkamp, who was integral to Arsene Wenger's early success in north London.

"Everyone knows that No.10 is a big shirt and it is definitely a big position as well," Smith Rowe, who previously wore the number 35, told Arsenal's official website.

"So I'm buzzing to be honest, I can't wait to get on the pitch. It's really special – I can't explain the feeling when I found out. I've not really got the words to explain it right now!

"The legends that have played here and have worn the shirt… it's a bit too much right now but I'm sure I will calm down after a while. When I was younger I used to watch Dennis Bergkamp, and when I was going through the academy Mesut Ozil was here as well and getting the opportunity to train with him and play with him as well was unbelievable.

"I just want to keep working hard and hopefully I can play like them and replicate what they've done."

Mikel Arteta added: "As we all saw last season, Emile is an intelligent player with excellent ability. His sharpness on the turn and exceptional vision have already made him a key player for us.

"His attitude and willingness to learn have also been very impressive. Huge credit to our team in our academy who have given Emile a great education and have worked superbly to help with his development through the age groups."

Smith Rowe's signing follows on from Arsenal making two additions already this month, with Nuno Tavares having joined from Benfica and Albert Sambi Lokonga coming in from Anderlecht.

Arsenal were scheduled to appear in the Florida Cup – a pre-season tournament in Orlando – next week, but have withdrawn due to a COVID-19 outbreak within their camp.

Manchester City's ambitions are showing no end after missing out on the Champions League title.

City have been linked with star England pair Harry Kane and Jack Grealish to further bolster the Premier League champions.

But the price tags on the duo from Tottenham and Aston Villa may be their stumbling blocks.

 

TOP STORY – CITY SALE TO FUND KANE AND GREALISH MOVES

Manchester City will offload several fringe players to raise £70million in order to fund their moves for Tottenham star Harry Kane and Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish, claims the Daily Mail.

With Sergio Aguero departed, City manager Pep Guardiola wants a frontline striker and those surplus to requirements will reportedly be let go.

First-team players Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus, Ilkay Gundogan, Bernardo Silva and Riyad Mahrez all have admirers and could move on.

But also fringe talent like Yangel Herrera, Ivan Ilic, Jack Harrison, Pedro Porro and Lukas Nmecha, who have had loan spells elsewhere, could be cashed in.

Bernardo Silva has been linked with a move to Atletico Madrid in exchange for Saul Niguez, while Juventus are reportedly eyeing Gundogan.

 

ROUND-UP

Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain are both keen on Inter's Achraf Hakimi and have lodged €60m (£52m) offers, reports Gianluca Di Marzio. Inter's asking price may be higher, while Chelsea may utilise Emerson Palmieri or Andreas Christensen as part of a swap deal.

- Bild says Borussia Dortmund will sell Jadon Sancho to United if they receive a suitable offer by the end of July. Sancho has long been tipped to swap Dortmund for United.

- Arsenal full-back Hector Bellerin is being linked with LaLiga champions Atletico and Real Betis by CBS Sport, while Sport have also claimed Juve are interested in the Spaniard, utilising Aaron Ramsey in a swap deal.

Liverpool are looking to replace Georginio Wijnaldum, lining up Roma skipper Lorenzo Pellegrini, according to Corriere dello Sport.

- The Sun claims West Ham are ready this month to step up their bid to sign Jesse Lingard permanently from Manchester United after his excellent loan spell.

- Fabrizio Romano reports Arsenal are set to finalise the details on a new contract for young talent Emile Smith Rowe.

Crystal Palace are closed to appointing former Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo as their new manager to replace Roy Hodgson, claims The Telegraph.

Thomas Tuchel shouldered the blame for Chelsea's 1-0 Premier League defeat to Arsenal at Stamford Bridge.

An awful backpass from Jorginho almost resulted in a comedy own goal and led directly to Emile Smith Rowe's 16th-minute winner – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang teeing up the youngster for his second goal in as many matches.

Chelsea went on to dominate for long spells, with Kurt Zouma and Olivier Giroud each hitting the bar in the final minutes.

But Tuchel rued his decision to make seven alterations to the team that beat champions Manchester City 2-1 on Saturday, potentially putting Chelsea's top four hopes back in the balance.

"It's totally our fault, nobody else. I think we lost the game, it's totally our responsibility," he told Sky Sports.

"We had huge chances. We made, more or less, an own goal. A total gift.

"Overall we were not sharp enough and we could not put up the same intensity as usual.

"It's on me. I think it was maybe too many changes from the last match. I take full responsibility for that. Maybe it's the last wake-up call for us.

"I did not feel we were involved in the same way, sharp and with intensity, like we were in the last game. These are the percentages that are missing today."

Chelsea face Leicester City in the FA Cup final on Saturday – the first of two shots at silverware this month ahead of the Champions League final on May 29.

Nevertheless, Tuchel maintained he overplayed his hand by not selecting an XI to see off Arsenal.

"We are on a good run, we had a good mood and the choices were not so good from my side for the line-up, this is on me," he continued.

"We were unlucky. You can lose these games in football and we did everything today to lose.

"I'm not happy with my line-up. There were too many changes and I should not do it like this."

Liverpool play two league games before Chelsea return to top-flight action, by which point they could have closed to within a point of Tuchel's fourth-placed side with two games remaining.

West Ham will also look to close the gap as the battle for Champions League qualification goes down to the wire.

"It's always a big fight, it never felt like a relief," Tuchel said, whose team's next Premier League outing will also be versus Leicester.

"I think it's still in our hands. We had some good results so we have to cope now with a loss."

The former Paris Saint-Germain boss removed Billy GIimour at half-time in favour of Callum Hudson-Odoi, although he insisted the decision was purely tactical and should not be viewed as a slight on the young midfielder's performance.

"It wasn't that Billy was bad, we just wanted an offensive change for tactical power," Tuchel said in his post-match news conference.

"For Billy's situation, we will talk after the season but right now he is here and doing his job. It is clear that it is very hard for him.

"We lacked N'Golo and Mateo Kovacic in midfield. It is unfair to put it all on his shoulders and he had a fantastic game against Manchester City.

"It was an okay match. He was by far not the problem."

Tuchel confirmed that Kepa Arrizabalaga was selected in goal to get him ready for a starting berth against Leicester at Wembley.

Arsenal checked Chelsea's top-four hopes after Jorginho's dreadful error gifted Mikel Arteta's side a 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge.

The midfielder's ill-conceived backpass caused havoc in the 16th minute, with Emile Smith Rowe the beneficiary, ensuring the Gunners doubled up on their 3-1 Boxing Day win over Chelsea.

Thomas Tuchel made seven changes to the side that beat Premier League champions and forthcoming Champions League final foes Manchester City last Saturday, seemingly with an eye on this weekend's FA Cup final against Leicester City.

Chelsea, who remain fourth having missed out on the chance to climb above their Wembley opponents, almost levelled when Kurt Zouma and Olivier Giroud both hit the crossbar in the final minute, as the battle for Champions League qualification took another twist.

Kai Havertz caught Pablo Mari napping and surged through on goal in the 10th minute, only to lift his shot wastefully over.

That mistake paled next to the wild backpass Jorginho sent fizzing towards his own net. A scampering Kepa Arrizabalaga did very well to push the ball off his goal line but Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang got to the rebound quickest and set up Smith Rowe to finish.

Mason Mount led the Chelsea response, first having a shot blocked from Christian Pulisic's cutback before linking well with Havertz to draw a sharp stop from Bernd Leno.

Arsenal wing-back Bukayo Saka erred in trying shepherd the ball out in the 36th minute, his England colleague Ben Chilwell drilling at Leno before Mohamed Elneny cleared behind with Mount lurking.

Tuchel made an attacking half-time substitution, with Callum Hudson-Odoi coming on for Billy Gilmour and Mount reverting to a deeper midfield role.

Chelsea remained on the front foot and thought they were level with an hour played, although Pulisic was offside when he converted Havertz's flick on from Mount's left-wing corner.

Elneny was tackled by Mount dangerously near to the Arsenal area but Giroud – freshly on for Havertz against his former club – sliced wildly off target.

A stretching Pulisic shot too close to Leno with five minutes to play and the Arsenal goalkeeper touched Zouma's header onto his bar before Giroud went similarly close with the follow-up.

What does it mean?

Liverpool play twice before Chelsea are next in league action, by which point they could be a point behind the Blues, while West Ham can also cut the gap. Next Tuesday's league encounter with Leicester could yet prove every bit as important to Chelsea as what lies in wait at the national stadium.

What's next

Chelsea will look to add a trophy to their phenomenal revival under Tuchel in Saturday's FA Cup final. Arsenal are next in action seven days from now at Crystal Palace.

Sam Allardyce finally suffered the sinking feeling of relegation from the Premier League after Arsenal beat West Brom 3-1 at the Emirates Stadium.

Albion needed a victory in north London on Sunday to keep their slim hopes of avoiding the drop alive, but the Gunners sent them down with three games to play.

Emile Smith Rowe put Arsenal in front with his first Premier League goal and Nicolas Pepe added a stunning second six minutes later in a devastating first-half spell for the Baggies.

Matheus Pereira pulled one back midway through the second half, but Willian rubbed salt into Albion's wounds by scoring an elusive first Arsenal goal late on with a brilliant free-kick.

Victory for Arsenal, who are facing a tough task to qualify for European football next season, shattered Allardyce's proud record of having never been relegated from the top flight.

Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe will be available for Arsenal for their Europa League quarter-final second leg against Slavia Prague.

Saka has been struggling with a thigh problem and was taken off in the second half of the Gunners' 3-0 Premier League win at Sheffield United on Sunday.

Smith Rowe missed that match at Bramall Lane after spraining his ankle in the 1-1 first-leg draw with Slavia, but he and Saka have recovered fully for the return fixture at Sinobo Stadium.

Captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who also missed the win over the Blades due to illness, will be assessed ahead of the Slavia clash.

Martin Odegaard is also battling to be fit after injuring his ankle during the international break, but the match will come too soon for Kieran Tierney and David Luiz.

Mikel Arteta's side are bidding to reach the Europa League semi-finals for the third time in four seasons, although they have failed to progress from their previous three European knockout ties after drawing the first leg.

Arsenal rising stars Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe face late fitness tests and David Luiz has been ruled out of the clash with Liverpool on Saturday evening.

Brazilian centre-back David Luiz must miss the Premier League game at Emirates Stadium, with Arsenal stating the 33-year-old has encountered "discomfort" in his right knee.

How serious that discomfort proves to be remains to be seen, with Arsenal saying the problem would continue to be examined.

Arsenal have a 36.8 per cent win rate in the 19 Premier League games that have featured David Luiz this season, compared with 50 per cent in the 10 games for which he has been absent.

They have collected an average of 1.4 points when he has played and 1.6 when he has not, with Arsenal heading into the weekend in ninth place, four points adrift of Liverpool who sit seventh.

In an injury update issued on the club website, Arsenal indicated winger Saka's right hamstring problem remained under observation.

The injury forced Saka out of England's three World Cup qualifiers in the past fortnight and although Arsenal posted a picture on Twitter of the 19-year-old in training, they said he "will be assessed ahead of Saturday's match regarding his availability".

The same applies for Smith Rowe, who suffered tightness in his right quad on England Under-21 duty, with Arsenal prepared to leave final decisions until closer to the game.

Manager Mikel Arteta faces a further wait to learn whether former captain Granit Xhaka is ready for the game, with the Swiss midfielder having missed training on Friday due to feeling unwell on his return from international duty.

Willian is available to Arteta, however, with the former Chelsea midfielder fully recovered from a left calf injury.

The 32-year-old has had the most assists (7) of all Arsenal players this season, across all competitions, with Smith Rowe and Saka (both 6) just behind the Brazilian.

Arsenal have lost just two of their last 20 Premier League home games against Liverpool (D9 W9).

England's best hopes for a trophy in 2021 might just be their Under-21 squad.

Aidy Boothroyd's youngsters head into the group stage of the Euro Under-21 finals as legitimate contenders for the trophy, despite being placed in a seriously tough group with Croatia, Portugal and Switzerland.

History is against England, too. They have reached the finals for eight consecutive tournaments but have only progressed from the group stages three times in that sequence. Since winning the trophy in 1984, they have reached the final only once, in 2009, where they lost to Germany.

Still, Boothroyd is undoubtedly blessed with a rich pool of talent, despite leaving out stars such as Phil Foden, Reece James and Jude Bellingham, who will all be involved in the senior side's World Cup qualifiers this month. There is a strength in depth to the Young Lions that should give them real hope of going all the way.

Perhaps the current crop can also buck the trend when it comes to breaking into the senior fold. Only 17 of the 48 players from the previous two Euro Under-21 squads have gone on to play for the full England side, and only Jordan Pickford could consider himself a regular there.

In short, this undoubtedly talented group has plenty to play for…

 

Max-imum opportunity

In front of keeper Aaron Ramsdale, who was in goal for all but one of their qualifiers, sits an encouraging defence.

Norwich City full-back Max Aarons has not only kept 15 clean sheets with the Championship leaders, but his attacking threat has been marked this season. Aarons has created 51 chances from open play and completed 52 dribbles, both the second-best figures among defenders in the competition. At the same time, Aarons has only been beaten by an opponent's dribble 13 times, the lowest number among the top nine of that particular group of attack-minded defenders. Little wonder he is a reported target for Bayern Munich and Everton, among others.

Japhet Tanganga of Tottenham is untested at this level but Jose Mourinho's young protege will not have far to look for a (relatively) experienced guide. Spurs' Ryan Sessegnon, one of just two England players who also played at the 2019 finals, has enjoyed an impressive loan spell at Hoffenheim this season, winning more tackles per 90 minutes (1.7) than anyone else for the Bundesliga side. He has also contributed two goals and two assists – only five Bundesliga defenders have had more direct goal involvements.

There's Rowe stopping him

Arguably England's most in-form young midfielder outside the senior squad has amazingly never played before for the Under-21s.

Emile Smith Rowe has been the big success story of Mikel Arteta's time in charge of Arsenal. Since the start of last season, as well as scoring twice and registering six assists, he has created 1.5 chances from open play per 90 minutes in all competitions, the best number among Gunners midfielders to start at least 10 matches in that time.

 

In 2020-21, Smith Rowe (nine) is second only to Mason Mount (14) for players 23 and under in the Premier League when it comes to multi-chance involvements – the number of unique shot-ending sequences in open play where a player both creates the chance and is involved in the build-up.

Exactly how Boothroyd deploys Smith Rowe remains to be seen, but he could offer a potent combination with rising Liverpool star Curtis Jones, a major plus in an otherwise troubled Premier League title defence for Jurgen Klopp.

Jones, the youngest Liverpool player to score in the Premier League away from Anfield in seven years, averages the most successful final-third passes (22.5) this season of any Reds player to feature in at least half of their league games.

Among Premier League midfielders in this age group this season, only Mount (nine) has been involved in more sequences that ended in them taking a shot at goal than Jones (seven) – and the Liverpool man has played fewer than half the minutes of the Chelsea star.

On the wings, Callum Hudson-Odoi might have experience of playing for England at the highest level, but a strong performance at these championships could be just what he needs as he begins to build up the trust of Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel. Since the German took charge on January 26, no Blues player has played more games (13) than Hudson-Odoi and only two have created more chances per 90 minutes (1.71). His directness down the wing could be a major asset: among players 23 or under in the Premier League, only Ferran Torres (0.59) has a better rating than Hudson-Odoi (0.55) when it comes to Expected Assists from a take-on.

Madueke's chance to shine

With Mason Greenwood having withdrawn due to injury, much of the goalscoring burden may fall on the Under-21s' all-time top marksman, Eddie Nketiah.

 

Arsenal's young striker has one goal in three league starts this season and three in six in the Europa League, but the international stage is where he really shines: 13 goals in nine qualifying games helped him become the Young Lions' record goalscorer, surpassing Alan Shearer.

If Nketiah should struggle for form, Boothroyd can turn to Noni Madueke. An unknown at this level on the international scene, Ruud van Nistelrooy's PSV pupil has 11 direct goal involvements in the Eredivisie this season – no teenager has more – with his seven goals coming in just six starts in the Dutch top flight, at an average of just over one for every four non-penalty shots.

Emile Smith Rowe has all the attributes and qualities required to play for England having been phenomenal for Arsenal this season, according to Mikel Arteta.  

After getting a taste of first-team action at Arsenal in the previous two seasons, as well as spending time out on loan at RB Leipzig and Huddersfield Town, the midfielder has enjoyed a meteoric rise in recent months.  

Smith Rowe had not even featured in the Premier League before Arteta included him in the starting XI for the Boxing Day win over Chelsea.  

Since then, however, he has been involved in every league fixture for the Gunners, making 11 starts as well as an appearance as a substitute in the 1-0 home loss to Manchester City last month. 

His involvement against Leicester City last Sunday was cut short by a hip injury Arteta hopes is not too significant, considering the player has gone from peripheral figure to key cog, leading to speculation over an England call up.

With his club boss having no doubts whatsoever over the 20-year-old's talent and temperament, with Smith Rowe potentially set to follow Arsenal youngster Bukayo Saka in making the step up to Gareth Southgate’s full squad after playing international football at youth level.  

However, there is still plenty of room for improvement too – particularly when it comes to adding goals to his game.  

Asked if Smith Rowe could be selected by England for their trio of World Cup qualifiers in March, Arteta replied: "I think it's possible. If he shows the same determination as Bukayo, be as humble as he is and play with the personality he has done, he has a great chance." 

"Emile has got all the attributes, all the qualities that you need to play for this football club and, in my opinion, for the national team.   

"I'm talking about finding the consistency level that is required, because that level is as good as it gets. But I think he has shown in moments this season what he can do. It's now about doing it for longer periods.  

"I think for us, it's more goals, being a threat all the time and working as hard as he has been doing, because I think he has been phenomenal for us."

Smith Rowe's emergence at Emirates Stadium provides a further option for Southgate, particularly with the delayed Euro 2020 tournament to come at the end of a hectic season for top-flight clubs.  

Jack Grealish impressed for England during the previous international break towards the end of 2020, though the Aston Villa playmaker is currently sidelined due to injury. Still, his tally of 10 assists in the Premier League this term demonstrates his creative abilities - only Kevin De Bruyne (11) has managed more when it comes to midfielders playing in the competition.  

Phil Foden scored twice in the 4-0 win over Iceland last November, a game that saw Mason Mount selected from the start. James Ward-Prowse was forced to withdraw from the squad as a precautionary measure, while there was no room for James Maddison, another currently out of action. 

Yet Smith Rowe has numbers that stack up in comparison to his potential rivals for a spot, creating four assists for Arsenal in his 12 league outings while completing 87.32 per cent of his passes (only Foden – at 87.65 - has a better pass success rate for English midfielders who have made 10 appearances and provided at least two assists in the Premier League).  

As Arteta pointed out, posing a greater goal threat - Smith Rowe has scored just once in the campaign so far – would further enhance his case. 

It may well be that this year's European Championship comes too soon, but Southgate at least has another name to consider in an already crowded position, not just for now but also for the long term.

Mikel Arteta felt Arsenal performed with "courage" to end a damning six-year run by beating Leicester City on Sunday.

The Gunners responded to an early goal from Youri Tielemans to win 3-1 at the King Power Stadium, with David Luiz and Nicolas Pepe scoring either side of an Alexandre Lacazette penalty.

It was their first Premier League win over Leicester since October 2018 and ended a run of 14 away matches without a victory against teams starting the day in the top three of the table.

Before getting the better of the third-placed Foxes, Arsenal's most recent away win over such lofty opponents came in January 2015, when they won 2-0 at Manchester City.

 

Manager Arteta was proud of the display, especially given their battling Europa League win over Benfica was only three days earlier.

"For me, it's not only about that," said Arteta. "It's how we play against opponents of top quality and just impose ourselves: try to be all the time us, it doesn't matter who we play against, and have the courage to do it against top-quality players.

"I'm proud of the way we won, but more about the way we have done it. Coming here after a very short turnaround after Benfica and going down very early puts the game in a difficult position.

"But we played some really good moments in the game. We were really solid, we dominated the game and overall we deserved the win."

Willian had an assist for a goal in a decisive substitute appearance against Benfica and continued that form at Leicester, crossing for David Luiz's opener and posting game-high figures of six accurate crosses and a 94 per cent passing accuracy.

"He was really good today, but we have seen that in training in the last few weeks," Arteta said of the Brazilian. "I think he is revealing himself. He is not accepting the situation.

"I think he was the player who changed the game against Benfica in the last few moments when he came on and today, I think he was terrific and the same for the senior players.

"Laca, the way he played; Nico, I think he grew in the game and had a big impact as well. And Granit [Xhaka]. I think a player that has played that many minutes, to play with the heart and passion he showed in every action, I think it's a great example for the rest of the players."

The downside to Arsenal's win, which lifted them back into the top 10, was losing Emile Smith Rowe to injury in a game that also saw Leicester's Jonny Evans and Harvey Barnes forced off.

Arteta thinks such incidents will only become more common as the season enters a hectic final third.

"Well, I think it is absolutely normal that it is happening," Arteta said. "That is why as well we needed to change players [today] because if not we were going to expose our players to get injured.

"But sometimes you don't have a chance as a manager [to do that] because you don't have enough players or you have the necessity to win and play them again.

"But it is insane, the amount of minutes and the games that these players are playing without any pre-season, without any break.

"You are going to get injured. We talked about it, all the managers raised our voices at the start of the season and it's happening."

Page 1 of 2
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.