The Emile Smith Rowe saga is trundling along, and it seems to be bringing out the usual contradictions in the Arsenal fanbase, on social media at least.
Perhaps some of us should step back and consider the irony of simultaneously demanding a Maddison, a Grealish or an Aouar on the one hand whilst declaring faux outrage that Aston Villa have the cheek to lowball us at £30 million plus for our current No.10, and reports suggest they have not given up. Yes ESR, without Odegaard is our first-choice central attacking midfielder and according to Arsenal Twitter is worth far more than a derisory £32 million. However, it appears that most of us want to sign a player who will relegate the young Englishman to a squad rotation role.
Of course, you can scream that it is a squad game, and we need two players for each position and there will be plenty of matches for rotation, but will there be? Without Europe as a distraction Leicester and Chelsea won the Premier League and a common feature was their distinct lack of rotation in the league. For me ESR is far to good to be a purely cup player and perhaps, just perhaps, it is that concern that has prevented him signing his new deal.
None of us will argue that it was the introduction of Saka on the right and ESR at 10 in December that started the shift in our fortunes. Since December, barring injury Smith Rowe, started most matches at 10, or on the left if Odegaard played. However, Pepe also found his scoring and assisting boots latterly so Pepe, ESR and Saka was our strongest three behind the striker in Arteta’s 4231. The youngster found his scoring touch as well to add to his assists.
For me, Smith Rowe is an Arsenal boy and can be a starter for years to come, so why risk losing him by not showing a faith, I think most of us at heart, feel he has earned. Let’s blow the budget on a partner for Partey and left Saka, Pepe, Martinelli and ESR share the creative load and chip in with the midfield goals, as they are all capable of it.
The Aston Villa interest is unsettling us, and it should because we would hate to lose a homegrown player over a few quid and a show of faith from the club. Yet we are collectively prepared to show that faith ourselves. Well, there is an easy and very recent parallel to be drawn with the same 2 clubs is there not?
In 2019/20 Emi Martinez played 9, yes only 9 matches for Arsenal and he felt he had done enough for Arteta to commit to him as his number 1 keeper. Many of the fanbase agreed and have used it none stop to beat the club over the head with, after they elected to cash in and sell the Argentinian to Villa. Are the same fans who expect Smith Rowe to stay as an understudy after plating 20 matches, more than double the quota of Martinez?
There is another factor at play for me, which I wrote about last season when Arteta had exiled Ozil and failed to land Aouar, namely that I believe in Saka we already have a world class alternative as a central attacking midfielder. Yes, Saka has played left in the three and more recently right in a three but surely none of us doubt his ability to play in the hole as well. We can easily play Martinelli or even Aubameyang on the left and Pepe on the right with Saka centrally. That is without the alternative of playing 2 wide creators with Willock as and advanced midfielder is desired.
If I were Arteta, and I know I will be in the majority I would put my arm around Smith Rowe, tell him he is the man and pay him the appropriate salary. After all the Spaniard tipped his dynamic young star for England this summer as recently as March. He can then concentrate on finding the best partner for Thomas Partey to bring out the best in his first choice CAM and a first choice right back that suits his system.
Failure to do so and the unthinkable might happen and the Croydon De Bruyne might become the Solihull De Bruyne, which to me is unthinkable.
Passionate fifty-something Arsenal supporter who has been making the journey to N5 regularly since the early 1980s – although his first game was in 1976. Always passionate when talking about The Arsenal, Dave decided to send a guest blog to Gunnersphere in the summer of 2011 and has not stopped writing about the Gunners since.
He set up his own site – 1 Nil Down 2 One Up – in February 2012, which he moved on in 2016 to concentrate on freelance writing and building Gunners Town, which he launched with Paul in 2014.
The objective of GT was to be new and fresh and to give a platform for likeminded passionate Arsenal fans wishing to write about their team. Dave still of course, writes for the site himself and advises the ever-changing writing crew.