Arsenal

Arsenal: Emile Smith Rowe has six months to save Gunners career after transfer decision

The midfielder is out of favour under Mikel Arteta and attracting interest from elsewhere
Emile Smith Rowe faces a defining six months as he bids to resurrect his Arsenal career.
The midfielder has fallen out of favour under Mikel Arteta after battling injuries over the past 18 months, playing just 302 minutes in the Premier League since the start of last season.
That has prompted interest from other clubs and last week West Ham enquired about taking the 23-year-old on loan.
Arsenal and Smith Rowe both knocked back the approach, with the player determined to force his way back into the team at his boyhood club. The Gunners took the same stance last summer but it will be interesting to see how all parties feel in six months if circumstances do not change.
Smith Rowe will have two years left on his contract in the summer and surely will not stand for his career drifting like this.
Similarly, it makes little sense for Arsenal to keep a player they are not using, especially when Smith Rowe would significantly boost their finances if they cash in on him.
But selling Smith Rowe would not go down well with supporters. Arsenal fans made that clear on Saturday and gave him a huge ovation when he came off the bench during their 5-0 win over Crystal Palace. He had looked sharp during his 21-minute cameo, playing with pace and purpose.
Smith Rowe is different to Arsenal’s other attackers. He is essentially a ‘street footballer’, thanks largely to his early days playing cage football in Croydon, and that makes him unpredictable for defenders.
More than once on Saturday, Smith Rowe’s ability to play off the cuff helped open up Palace.
He is now fully fit after a knee injury in November and hopes to play a big part in the second half of the season.
After their win on Saturday, Arsenal are still in the title race and have a winnable last-16 tie against Porto in the Champions League next month.
They have little room for manoeuvre in the transfer market this month due to financial rules, and Smith Rowe could prove to be a valuable weapon if they can’t sign a new forward.
Arteta said last month that he has never seen Smith Rowe rehab like this, but actions speak louder than words.
Three years ago, it was Smith Rowe who resurrected Arteta’s Arsenal career by breaking into the team and firing them up the table.
Now he needs to do the same again, but this time it is to save his own future at the club.

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