Smith Rowe opened the scoring for Arsenal as they claimed a well-deserved win over Brentford to close the gap with their rivals for a place in the top four in the Premier League.
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The 21-year-old has found it very difficult to exclude Martinelli, Bukayo Saka or Martin Odegaard from Arteta’s team in recent months, starting just one Premier League game since the beginning of December.
But he was finally given another chance to impress on Saturday, with newly promoted Brentford as a guest to Emirates Stadium as Arsenal look to keep the pressure on their top four opponents.
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It was an opportunity that Smith Rowe took with both hands, with his performance in the second half helping the Gunners win.
The England international was quiet in the first period, but came alive after the break to help Arteta’s men close the gap on fourth place Manchester United only one point.
Within three minutes of the second half, Smith Rowe collected the ball on the edge of the box, cut the ball from inside the box, and shot into the net of Bees goalkeeper David Raya.
That goal means he is the first Arsenal midfielder to hit the double in all competitions in a single season since Aaron Ramsey in 2017/2018.
He is also the first academy graduate to do so since Cesc Fabregas was at the club, in another example of Smith Rowe’s incredible talent.
He continued to be one of the hosts’ most threatening players after his strike as Arteta took control of the game.
The attacker succeeded with 100% of his dribbles and gave Sergi Canos no trouble when he gave the game to Ong.
But while Arteta would be delighted to once again see Smith Rowe as the driving force behind his team’s win, it left the Spaniard a lot of headaches.
When Martinelli returns from suspension, Arteta will be left with just five players fighting for three places on the team.
Despite not being able to score the expected goals, Alexandre Lacazette is still guaranteed a starting place because of his captaincy and his role in the constructive play for the Gunners.
That will leave Smith Rowe, Martinelli, Saka, Odegaard and Nicolas Pepe scrambling for a spot in three places behind the forward.
Odegaard and Saka both had excellent campaigns, and Martinelli and Smith Rowe also played key roles in bringing the Gunners back to the top four.
Deciding on who will miss the starting position will be made even more difficult by Smith Rowe’s performance against Brentford.
While many would offer anything to give Arteta options, few want to share the headache currently facing the Arsenal boss.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/news/arsenal-emile-smith-rowe-brentford-26277959 Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has a headache after star Emile Smith Rowe in the win over Brentford