Can Emile Smith Rowe become an England regular before the World Cup?

ESR Celebrates

This article amazingly was written before today’s news, which saw Emile Smith Rowe promoted to the senior England squad for this first time …..

Emile Smith Rowe rose through the England youth ranks and has played at every level since his breakthrough in the 2015-16 season. Few are doubting that he will eventually become a regular starter in Gareth Southgate’s first team, but whether he can cement his place in the Three Lions attack in time for the next World Cup is another question.

There is fierce competition for places in Smith Rowe’s favoured position, but the Arsenal playmaker is proving hard to ignore when it comes to picking the national team.


Smith Rowe has made the Number 10 shirt his own

The Arsenal number 10 shirt has been worn by some legends of the game in the past including Dennis Bergkamp, Robin Van Persie, and Paul Merson. When Mikel Arteta decided to hand it to Smith Rowe at the start of the 2021-22 season, it was a bold statement. Could the 21-year-old cut it when compared to such massive players of the past?

Within a few games of the current campaign, Smith Rowe managed to show that he was more than worthy of carrying the mantle. He completed almost two more dribbles per 90 minutes than last season, along with upping his output in front of goal. In the first ten games, he registered three goals and two assists. He only managed two goals and five assists throughout the whole of the 2020-21 season, so this is a major improvement already.

Smith Rowe’s performances helped drag Arsenal out of an early-season hole, a dark time in which they failed to win any of the first three games. Things have looked up ever since the home win against Norwich, and now Arsenal have a chance of finishing in the top four. Indeed, according to the Premier League betting odds, the Gunners can be backed at 7/2 to do so.

Who Will the Arsenal Man Have to Displace?

The problem for Smith Rowe is the fact that, despite his impressive displays, the number 10 position for England is hotly contested. Southgate has an embarrassment of riches in attacking midfield, with numerous players able to play in a variety of places. The Three Lions manager prefers his players to line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, and Smith Rowe would ideally like to be in the middle of that three.

The problem is that Mason Mount, Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, and Raheem Sterling could all potentially play in this position as well. Mount is the most likely contender, as the other players mentioned are better suited to the wider positions. However, they all play in teams where the roles of attackers are constantly shifting, meaning that they need to be adept in all positions. Smith Rowe will have to outshine these budding superstars at club level if he is to get the chance to make the position his own.

The injuries that have seen the young playmaker given his opportunity and Smith Rowe may now has the chance to catapult himself from the periphery to the fore of Southgate’s plans. If he gets some minutes in the next 2 matches and he continues playing well for Arsenal for the rest of this season, he could easily become a strong contender for the number 10 role at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

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One Response to Can Emile Smith Rowe become an England regular before the World Cup?

  1. Ben November 8, 2021 at 8:09 pm #

    I think he can. In my opinion he’s the English 21-24yo with the most realised and unrealised potential alongside Foden and James. So long as Southgate isn’t a total melon (big ask) and Smith Rowe continues to progress, he should be a starter ahead of Grealish and Sterling by Qatar because his output levels will surpass theirs significantly and he just offers lots more in terms of pace, ball carrying, pressing, defensive input and versatility.

    Then again, Southgate has failed to include 2 of England’s best 3 centrebacks (White, Tomori, Stones) in his latest squad so it’s not impossible that he gets overlooked for some Southgate dross.

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