Arsenal

mile Smith Rowe faces questions after latest Arsenal snub with summer exit fears on the rise

Emile Smith Rowe was snubbed again by Mikel Arteta despite Arsenal’s five-goal half time lead against Sheffield United further raising questions over his future.

As Arsenal strode to a five-goal first-half lead against Sheffield United, the eyes naturally get drawn to the bench to see who might get a chance. Mikel Arteta did indeed get the maximum use out of his five substitutions however there was no room for Emile Smith Rowe to come on.

Fabio Vieira replaced an ill Bukayo Saka at half-time before Cedric Soares, Thomas Partey and Gabriel Jesus were introduced. Leandro Trossard was the final introduction who was brought on for the brilliant Declan Rice.

There was some frustration that Smith Rowe wasn’t given the chance but there are certainly explanations behind all of the choices Arteta made. When Saka came off for Vieira, this was the first chance to give the Portuguese player minutes since returning from injury as Arteta pointed out it was an opportunity they did not want to miss with such a commanding lead at the break.

Meanwhile the same can be said for both Partey and Jesus who had also come back from injury and Arteta rightfully wanted to give them minutes. Cedric was the only defender on the bench as Arsenal’s defensive frailties continued and Ben White had previously been suffering a persistent knee problem so the chance to rest when possible was taken; Cedric too is currently the only fit defensive depth available and so giving him minutes to stay alert was key

Lastly and perhaps the most debatable is Trossard. The Belgian has played plenty of football this year and got in on the act with goals with the left flank an area Smith Rowe can certainly occupy and has done successfully in the past.

However, it has felt like Trossard is very much Arsenal’s twelfth player. When not starting he is often the first option from the bench and so keeping him sharp with time is also important whereas Smith Rowe has admittedly fallen down the pecking order.

Despite these explanations, it will do little to stop the rumours over his future from rising and therefore it begs the question whether there is even a space for the player when everyone is fit. Soon Takehiro Tomiyasu, Jurrien Timber and Oleksandr Zinchenko will be back and Arteta will be leaving some players out entirely with Smith Rowe surely one of the first names on the chopping block.

Or could it be different? Will the Arsenal manager see a way to utilise his Hale End success story and get the England international back involved with regular minutes and a midfield pathway?

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