Emile Smith Rowe will wear the number 10 shirt for Arsenal in 2021-22, with the midfielder having also agreed to a new contract.

Smith Rowe enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2020-21, with the 20-year-old making 33 appearances across all competitions.

In total, Smith Rowe scored four goals and contributed seven assists, the latter being a joint-high for Arsenal alongside Willian and fellow academy graduate Bukayo Saka.

Smith Rowe's big chance conversion rate of 60 per cent (3/5) also ranked him top of Arsenal's squad last term (minimum of two big chances).

Though it was his creativity that made Smith Rowe so effective. His 37 open-play key passes was only bettered by Kieran Tierney (41) and Saka (39) in the Gunners side, though both of them played at least 700 more minutes than him. The midfielder's 1.5 chances created per game was second only to Martin Odegaard (2.2 – minimum 100 minutes played).

However, his future had not been certain. With Arsenal reportedly looking to make Odegaard's move from Real Madrid permanent, Aston Villa had seen a series of bids rejected for Smith Rowe earlier in the transfer window.

But with Odegaard seemingly unobtainable, Arsenal have now tied Smith Rowe down to a new deal, though the Gunners did not specify the length of the contract.

Smith Rowe has also been given the number 10 shirt, which was last occupied by Mesut Ozil – the number is perhaps best associated in recent memory with Dennis Bergkamp, who was integral to Arsene Wenger's early success in north London.

"Everyone knows that No.10 is a big shirt and it is definitely a big position as well," Smith Rowe, who previously wore the number 35, told Arsenal's official website.

"So I'm buzzing to be honest, I can't wait to get on the pitch. It's really special – I can't explain the feeling when I found out. I've not really got the words to explain it right now!

"The legends that have played here and have worn the shirt… it's a bit too much right now but I'm sure I will calm down after a while. When I was younger I used to watch Dennis Bergkamp, and when I was going through the academy Mesut Ozil was here as well and getting the opportunity to train with him and play with him as well was unbelievable.

"I just want to keep working hard and hopefully I can play like them and replicate what they've done."

Mikel Arteta added: "As we all saw last season, Emile is an intelligent player with excellent ability. His sharpness on the turn and exceptional vision have already made him a key player for us.

"His attitude and willingness to learn have also been very impressive. Huge credit to our team in our academy who have given Emile a great education and have worked superbly to help with his development through the age groups."

Smith Rowe's signing follows on from Arsenal making two additions already this month, with Nuno Tavares having joined from Benfica and Albert Sambi Lokonga coming in from Anderlecht.

Arsenal were scheduled to appear in the Florida Cup – a pre-season tournament in Orlando – next week, but have withdrawn due to a COVID-19 outbreak within their camp.

Manchester City's ambitions are showing no end after missing out on the Champions League title.

City have been linked with star England pair Harry Kane and Jack Grealish to further bolster the Premier League champions.

But the price tags on the duo from Tottenham and Aston Villa may be their stumbling blocks.

 

TOP STORY – CITY SALE TO FUND KANE AND GREALISH MOVES

Manchester City will offload several fringe players to raise £70million in order to fund their moves for Tottenham star Harry Kane and Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish, claims the Daily Mail.

With Sergio Aguero departed, City manager Pep Guardiola wants a frontline striker and those surplus to requirements will reportedly be let go.

First-team players Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus, Ilkay Gundogan, Bernardo Silva and Riyad Mahrez all have admirers and could move on.

But also fringe talent like Yangel Herrera, Ivan Ilic, Jack Harrison, Pedro Porro and Lukas Nmecha, who have had loan spells elsewhere, could be cashed in.

Bernardo Silva has been linked with a move to Atletico Madrid in exchange for Saul Niguez, while Juventus are reportedly eyeing Gundogan.

 

ROUND-UP

Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain are both keen on Inter's Achraf Hakimi and have lodged €60m (£52m) offers, reports Gianluca Di Marzio. Inter's asking price may be higher, while Chelsea may utilise Emerson Palmieri or Andreas Christensen as part of a swap deal.

- Bild says Borussia Dortmund will sell Jadon Sancho to United if they receive a suitable offer by the end of July. Sancho has long been tipped to swap Dortmund for United.

- Arsenal full-back Hector Bellerin is being linked with LaLiga champions Atletico and Real Betis by CBS Sport, while Sport have also claimed Juve are interested in the Spaniard, utilising Aaron Ramsey in a swap deal.

Liverpool are looking to replace Georginio Wijnaldum, lining up Roma skipper Lorenzo Pellegrini, according to Corriere dello Sport.

- The Sun claims West Ham are ready this month to step up their bid to sign Jesse Lingard permanently from Manchester United after his excellent loan spell.

- Fabrizio Romano reports Arsenal are set to finalise the details on a new contract for young talent Emile Smith Rowe.

Crystal Palace are closed to appointing former Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo as their new manager to replace Roy Hodgson, claims The Telegraph.

Thomas Tuchel shouldered the blame for Chelsea's 1-0 Premier League defeat to Arsenal at Stamford Bridge.

An awful backpass from Jorginho almost resulted in a comedy own goal and led directly to Emile Smith Rowe's 16th-minute winner – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang teeing up the youngster for his second goal in as many matches.

Chelsea went on to dominate for long spells, with Kurt Zouma and Olivier Giroud each hitting the bar in the final minutes.

But Tuchel rued his decision to make seven alterations to the team that beat champions Manchester City 2-1 on Saturday, potentially putting Chelsea's top four hopes back in the balance.

"It's totally our fault, nobody else. I think we lost the game, it's totally our responsibility," he told Sky Sports.

"We had huge chances. We made, more or less, an own goal. A total gift.

"Overall we were not sharp enough and we could not put up the same intensity as usual.

"It's on me. I think it was maybe too many changes from the last match. I take full responsibility for that. Maybe it's the last wake-up call for us.

"I did not feel we were involved in the same way, sharp and with intensity, like we were in the last game. These are the percentages that are missing today."

Chelsea face Leicester City in the FA Cup final on Saturday – the first of two shots at silverware this month ahead of the Champions League final on May 29.

Nevertheless, Tuchel maintained he overplayed his hand by not selecting an XI to see off Arsenal.

"We are on a good run, we had a good mood and the choices were not so good from my side for the line-up, this is on me," he continued.

"We were unlucky. You can lose these games in football and we did everything today to lose.

"I'm not happy with my line-up. There were too many changes and I should not do it like this."

Liverpool play two league games before Chelsea return to top-flight action, by which point they could have closed to within a point of Tuchel's fourth-placed side with two games remaining.

West Ham will also look to close the gap as the battle for Champions League qualification goes down to the wire.

"It's always a big fight, it never felt like a relief," Tuchel said, whose team's next Premier League outing will also be versus Leicester.

"I think it's still in our hands. We had some good results so we have to cope now with a loss."

The former Paris Saint-Germain boss removed Billy GIimour at half-time in favour of Callum Hudson-Odoi, although he insisted the decision was purely tactical and should not be viewed as a slight on the young midfielder's performance.

"It wasn't that Billy was bad, we just wanted an offensive change for tactical power," Tuchel said in his post-match news conference.

"For Billy's situation, we will talk after the season but right now he is here and doing his job. It is clear that it is very hard for him.

"We lacked N'Golo and Mateo Kovacic in midfield. It is unfair to put it all on his shoulders and he had a fantastic game against Manchester City.

"It was an okay match. He was by far not the problem."

Tuchel confirmed that Kepa Arrizabalaga was selected in goal to get him ready for a starting berth against Leicester at Wembley.

Arsenal checked Chelsea's top-four hopes after Jorginho's dreadful error gifted Mikel Arteta's side a 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge.

The midfielder's ill-conceived backpass caused havoc in the 16th minute, with Emile Smith Rowe the beneficiary, ensuring the Gunners doubled up on their 3-1 Boxing Day win over Chelsea.

Thomas Tuchel made seven changes to the side that beat Premier League champions and forthcoming Champions League final foes Manchester City last Saturday, seemingly with an eye on this weekend's FA Cup final against Leicester City.

Chelsea, who remain fourth having missed out on the chance to climb above their Wembley opponents, almost levelled when Kurt Zouma and Olivier Giroud both hit the crossbar in the final minute, as the battle for Champions League qualification took another twist.

Kai Havertz caught Pablo Mari napping and surged through on goal in the 10th minute, only to lift his shot wastefully over.

That mistake paled next to the wild backpass Jorginho sent fizzing towards his own net. A scampering Kepa Arrizabalaga did very well to push the ball off his goal line but Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang got to the rebound quickest and set up Smith Rowe to finish.

Mason Mount led the Chelsea response, first having a shot blocked from Christian Pulisic's cutback before linking well with Havertz to draw a sharp stop from Bernd Leno.

Arsenal wing-back Bukayo Saka erred in trying shepherd the ball out in the 36th minute, his England colleague Ben Chilwell drilling at Leno before Mohamed Elneny cleared behind with Mount lurking.

Tuchel made an attacking half-time substitution, with Callum Hudson-Odoi coming on for Billy Gilmour and Mount reverting to a deeper midfield role.

Chelsea remained on the front foot and thought they were level with an hour played, although Pulisic was offside when he converted Havertz's flick on from Mount's left-wing corner.

Elneny was tackled by Mount dangerously near to the Arsenal area but Giroud – freshly on for Havertz against his former club – sliced wildly off target.

A stretching Pulisic shot too close to Leno with five minutes to play and the Arsenal goalkeeper touched Zouma's header onto his bar before Giroud went similarly close with the follow-up.

What does it mean?

Liverpool play twice before Chelsea are next in league action, by which point they could be a point behind the Blues, while West Ham can also cut the gap. Next Tuesday's league encounter with Leicester could yet prove every bit as important to Chelsea as what lies in wait at the national stadium.

What's next

Chelsea will look to add a trophy to their phenomenal revival under Tuchel in Saturday's FA Cup final. Arsenal are next in action seven days from now at Crystal Palace.

Sam Allardyce finally suffered the sinking feeling of relegation from the Premier League after Arsenal beat West Brom 3-1 at the Emirates Stadium.

Albion needed a victory in north London on Sunday to keep their slim hopes of avoiding the drop alive, but the Gunners sent them down with three games to play.

Emile Smith Rowe put Arsenal in front with his first Premier League goal and Nicolas Pepe added a stunning second six minutes later in a devastating first-half spell for the Baggies.

Matheus Pereira pulled one back midway through the second half, but Willian rubbed salt into Albion's wounds by scoring an elusive first Arsenal goal late on with a brilliant free-kick.

Victory for Arsenal, who are facing a tough task to qualify for European football next season, shattered Allardyce's proud record of having never been relegated from the top flight.

Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe will be available for Arsenal for their Europa League quarter-final second leg against Slavia Prague.

Saka has been struggling with a thigh problem and was taken off in the second half of the Gunners' 3-0 Premier League win at Sheffield United on Sunday.

Smith Rowe missed that match at Bramall Lane after spraining his ankle in the 1-1 first-leg draw with Slavia, but he and Saka have recovered fully for the return fixture at Sinobo Stadium.

Captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who also missed the win over the Blades due to illness, will be assessed ahead of the Slavia clash.

Martin Odegaard is also battling to be fit after injuring his ankle during the international break, but the match will come too soon for Kieran Tierney and David Luiz.

Mikel Arteta's side are bidding to reach the Europa League semi-finals for the third time in four seasons, although they have failed to progress from their previous three European knockout ties after drawing the first leg.

Arsenal rising stars Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe face late fitness tests and David Luiz has been ruled out of the clash with Liverpool on Saturday evening.

Brazilian centre-back David Luiz must miss the Premier League game at Emirates Stadium, with Arsenal stating the 33-year-old has encountered "discomfort" in his right knee.

How serious that discomfort proves to be remains to be seen, with Arsenal saying the problem would continue to be examined.

Arsenal have a 36.8 per cent win rate in the 19 Premier League games that have featured David Luiz this season, compared with 50 per cent in the 10 games for which he has been absent.

They have collected an average of 1.4 points when he has played and 1.6 when he has not, with Arsenal heading into the weekend in ninth place, four points adrift of Liverpool who sit seventh.

In an injury update issued on the club website, Arsenal indicated winger Saka's right hamstring problem remained under observation.

The injury forced Saka out of England's three World Cup qualifiers in the past fortnight and although Arsenal posted a picture on Twitter of the 19-year-old in training, they said he "will be assessed ahead of Saturday's match regarding his availability".

The same applies for Smith Rowe, who suffered tightness in his right quad on England Under-21 duty, with Arsenal prepared to leave final decisions until closer to the game.

Manager Mikel Arteta faces a further wait to learn whether former captain Granit Xhaka is ready for the game, with the Swiss midfielder having missed training on Friday due to feeling unwell on his return from international duty.

Willian is available to Arteta, however, with the former Chelsea midfielder fully recovered from a left calf injury.

The 32-year-old has had the most assists (7) of all Arsenal players this season, across all competitions, with Smith Rowe and Saka (both 6) just behind the Brazilian.

Arsenal have lost just two of their last 20 Premier League home games against Liverpool (D9 W9).

England's best hopes for a trophy in 2021 might just be their Under-21 squad.

Aidy Boothroyd's youngsters head into the group stage of the Euro Under-21 finals as legitimate contenders for the trophy, despite being placed in a seriously tough group with Croatia, Portugal and Switzerland.

History is against England, too. They have reached the finals for eight consecutive tournaments but have only progressed from the group stages three times in that sequence. Since winning the trophy in 1984, they have reached the final only once, in 2009, where they lost to Germany.

Still, Boothroyd is undoubtedly blessed with a rich pool of talent, despite leaving out stars such as Phil Foden, Reece James and Jude Bellingham, who will all be involved in the senior side's World Cup qualifiers this month. There is a strength in depth to the Young Lions that should give them real hope of going all the way.

Perhaps the current crop can also buck the trend when it comes to breaking into the senior fold. Only 17 of the 48 players from the previous two Euro Under-21 squads have gone on to play for the full England side, and only Jordan Pickford could consider himself a regular there.

In short, this undoubtedly talented group has plenty to play for…

 

Max-imum opportunity

In front of keeper Aaron Ramsdale, who was in goal for all but one of their qualifiers, sits an encouraging defence.

Norwich City full-back Max Aarons has not only kept 15 clean sheets with the Championship leaders, but his attacking threat has been marked this season. Aarons has created 51 chances from open play and completed 52 dribbles, both the second-best figures among defenders in the competition. At the same time, Aarons has only been beaten by an opponent's dribble 13 times, the lowest number among the top nine of that particular group of attack-minded defenders. Little wonder he is a reported target for Bayern Munich and Everton, among others.

Japhet Tanganga of Tottenham is untested at this level but Jose Mourinho's young protege will not have far to look for a (relatively) experienced guide. Spurs' Ryan Sessegnon, one of just two England players who also played at the 2019 finals, has enjoyed an impressive loan spell at Hoffenheim this season, winning more tackles per 90 minutes (1.7) than anyone else for the Bundesliga side. He has also contributed two goals and two assists – only five Bundesliga defenders have had more direct goal involvements.

There's Rowe stopping him

Arguably England's most in-form young midfielder outside the senior squad has amazingly never played before for the Under-21s.

Emile Smith Rowe has been the big success story of Mikel Arteta's time in charge of Arsenal. Since the start of last season, as well as scoring twice and registering six assists, he has created 1.5 chances from open play per 90 minutes in all competitions, the best number among Gunners midfielders to start at least 10 matches in that time.

 

In 2020-21, Smith Rowe (nine) is second only to Mason Mount (14) for players 23 and under in the Premier League when it comes to multi-chance involvements – the number of unique shot-ending sequences in open play where a player both creates the chance and is involved in the build-up.

Exactly how Boothroyd deploys Smith Rowe remains to be seen, but he could offer a potent combination with rising Liverpool star Curtis Jones, a major plus in an otherwise troubled Premier League title defence for Jurgen Klopp.

Jones, the youngest Liverpool player to score in the Premier League away from Anfield in seven years, averages the most successful final-third passes (22.5) this season of any Reds player to feature in at least half of their league games.

Among Premier League midfielders in this age group this season, only Mount (nine) has been involved in more sequences that ended in them taking a shot at goal than Jones (seven) – and the Liverpool man has played fewer than half the minutes of the Chelsea star.

On the wings, Callum Hudson-Odoi might have experience of playing for England at the highest level, but a strong performance at these championships could be just what he needs as he begins to build up the trust of Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel. Since the German took charge on January 26, no Blues player has played more games (13) than Hudson-Odoi and only two have created more chances per 90 minutes (1.71). His directness down the wing could be a major asset: among players 23 or under in the Premier League, only Ferran Torres (0.59) has a better rating than Hudson-Odoi (0.55) when it comes to Expected Assists from a take-on.

Madueke's chance to shine

With Mason Greenwood having withdrawn due to injury, much of the goalscoring burden may fall on the Under-21s' all-time top marksman, Eddie Nketiah.

 

Arsenal's young striker has one goal in three league starts this season and three in six in the Europa League, but the international stage is where he really shines: 13 goals in nine qualifying games helped him become the Young Lions' record goalscorer, surpassing Alan Shearer.

If Nketiah should struggle for form, Boothroyd can turn to Noni Madueke. An unknown at this level on the international scene, Ruud van Nistelrooy's PSV pupil has 11 direct goal involvements in the Eredivisie this season – no teenager has more – with his seven goals coming in just six starts in the Dutch top flight, at an average of just over one for every four non-penalty shots.

Emile Smith Rowe has all the attributes and qualities required to play for England having been phenomenal for Arsenal this season, according to Mikel Arteta.  

After getting a taste of first-team action at Arsenal in the previous two seasons, as well as spending time out on loan at RB Leipzig and Huddersfield Town, the midfielder has enjoyed a meteoric rise in recent months.  

Smith Rowe had not even featured in the Premier League before Arteta included him in the starting XI for the Boxing Day win over Chelsea.  

Since then, however, he has been involved in every league fixture for the Gunners, making 11 starts as well as an appearance as a substitute in the 1-0 home loss to Manchester City last month. 

His involvement against Leicester City last Sunday was cut short by a hip injury Arteta hopes is not too significant, considering the player has gone from peripheral figure to key cog, leading to speculation over an England call up.

With his club boss having no doubts whatsoever over the 20-year-old's talent and temperament, with Smith Rowe potentially set to follow Arsenal youngster Bukayo Saka in making the step up to Gareth Southgate’s full squad after playing international football at youth level.  

However, there is still plenty of room for improvement too – particularly when it comes to adding goals to his game.  

Asked if Smith Rowe could be selected by England for their trio of World Cup qualifiers in March, Arteta replied: "I think it's possible. If he shows the same determination as Bukayo, be as humble as he is and play with the personality he has done, he has a great chance." 

"Emile has got all the attributes, all the qualities that you need to play for this football club and, in my opinion, for the national team.   

"I'm talking about finding the consistency level that is required, because that level is as good as it gets. But I think he has shown in moments this season what he can do. It's now about doing it for longer periods.  

"I think for us, it's more goals, being a threat all the time and working as hard as he has been doing, because I think he has been phenomenal for us."

Smith Rowe's emergence at Emirates Stadium provides a further option for Southgate, particularly with the delayed Euro 2020 tournament to come at the end of a hectic season for top-flight clubs.  

Jack Grealish impressed for England during the previous international break towards the end of 2020, though the Aston Villa playmaker is currently sidelined due to injury. Still, his tally of 10 assists in the Premier League this term demonstrates his creative abilities - only Kevin De Bruyne (11) has managed more when it comes to midfielders playing in the competition.  

Phil Foden scored twice in the 4-0 win over Iceland last November, a game that saw Mason Mount selected from the start. James Ward-Prowse was forced to withdraw from the squad as a precautionary measure, while there was no room for James Maddison, another currently out of action. 

Yet Smith Rowe has numbers that stack up in comparison to his potential rivals for a spot, creating four assists for Arsenal in his 12 league outings while completing 87.32 per cent of his passes (only Foden – at 87.65 - has a better pass success rate for English midfielders who have made 10 appearances and provided at least two assists in the Premier League).  

As Arteta pointed out, posing a greater goal threat - Smith Rowe has scored just once in the campaign so far – would further enhance his case. 

It may well be that this year's European Championship comes too soon, but Southgate at least has another name to consider in an already crowded position, not just for now but also for the long term.

Mikel Arteta felt Arsenal performed with "courage" to end a damning six-year run by beating Leicester City on Sunday.

The Gunners responded to an early goal from Youri Tielemans to win 3-1 at the King Power Stadium, with David Luiz and Nicolas Pepe scoring either side of an Alexandre Lacazette penalty.

It was their first Premier League win over Leicester since October 2018 and ended a run of 14 away matches without a victory against teams starting the day in the top three of the table.

Before getting the better of the third-placed Foxes, Arsenal's most recent away win over such lofty opponents came in January 2015, when they won 2-0 at Manchester City.

 

Manager Arteta was proud of the display, especially given their battling Europa League win over Benfica was only three days earlier.

"For me, it's not only about that," said Arteta. "It's how we play against opponents of top quality and just impose ourselves: try to be all the time us, it doesn't matter who we play against, and have the courage to do it against top-quality players.

"I'm proud of the way we won, but more about the way we have done it. Coming here after a very short turnaround after Benfica and going down very early puts the game in a difficult position.

"But we played some really good moments in the game. We were really solid, we dominated the game and overall we deserved the win."

Willian had an assist for a goal in a decisive substitute appearance against Benfica and continued that form at Leicester, crossing for David Luiz's opener and posting game-high figures of six accurate crosses and a 94 per cent passing accuracy.

"He was really good today, but we have seen that in training in the last few weeks," Arteta said of the Brazilian. "I think he is revealing himself. He is not accepting the situation.

"I think he was the player who changed the game against Benfica in the last few moments when he came on and today, I think he was terrific and the same for the senior players.

"Laca, the way he played; Nico, I think he grew in the game and had a big impact as well. And Granit [Xhaka]. I think a player that has played that many minutes, to play with the heart and passion he showed in every action, I think it's a great example for the rest of the players."

The downside to Arsenal's win, which lifted them back into the top 10, was losing Emile Smith Rowe to injury in a game that also saw Leicester's Jonny Evans and Harvey Barnes forced off.

Arteta thinks such incidents will only become more common as the season enters a hectic final third.

"Well, I think it is absolutely normal that it is happening," Arteta said. "That is why as well we needed to change players [today] because if not we were going to expose our players to get injured.

"But sometimes you don't have a chance as a manager [to do that] because you don't have enough players or you have the necessity to win and play them again.

"But it is insane, the amount of minutes and the games that these players are playing without any pre-season, without any break.

"You are going to get injured. We talked about it, all the managers raised our voices at the start of the season and it's happening."

Mikel Arteta is adamant Martin Odegaard's arrival does not have to negatively impact Emile Smith Rowe's form, with the Arsenal manager convinced they can play together.

Arsenal completed the loan signing of Odegaard from Real Madrid on Wednesday, the Norwegian adding creativity to a squad that had not included Mesut Ozil at all this season prior to his move to Fenerbahce.

The 22-year-old Odegaard had struggled at Real Madrid this term, making just three LaLiga starts for Zinedine Zidane after returning from an impressive temporary spell at Real Sociedad.

But there is great hope that he could make a real impact for the Gunners if he is able to rediscover the form he displayed with La Real, for whom he created a team-high 62 chances and provided six assists in 2019-20.

Despite some expressing doubts over his compatibility with Smith Rowe, Arteta believes the two can play together, while Odegaard's signing will alleviate some of the creative burden.

"Of course, they can play together, and it is not about pushing somebody else [out of the team]," Arteta told reporters ahead of Saturday's clash with Manchester United.

"Emile has earned his right to play the way he is performing - and Martin has to earn that.

"Emile cannot play every single game, as we knew the other day. For example, in the FA Cup he was injured, he could not play.

"The other day [against Southampton on Tuesday], he could only play certain minutes because he was struggling for the last minutes.

"It has been a massive step for him from what he was doing three, four months ago and what he is doing right now. We need options."

DOUBLE THREAT

Smith Rowe has enjoyed a sudden rise to prominence with the Gunners – before Christmas he was exclusively used in cup competitions, but he has started six Premier League matches in a row since.

The first of those was the 3-1 win over Chelsea on Boxing Day, a result that ended a run of seven games without a league victory and began to ease the pressure on Arteta. The Gunners are unbeaten with Smith Rowe in the side in the league this season.

His three assists from open play across the same period is more than anyone else has managed in the Premier League, so concern for Smith Rowe's momentum was an understanding by-product of the initial links to Odegaard.

But, Opta data lends credence to Arteta's assessment they can play together.

 

None of Smith Rowe's key passes or assists have come from the central third of the attacking half, with all of them coming from wider positions.

While Odegaard operated predominantly from the right at Real Sociedad last term, the highest proportion (31.2 per cent) of his assists and key passes came from the central zone directly outside the penalty area.

 

Creativity in this zone has been a weak point of Arsenal's this season, with most of their threat coming down the left – Odegaard's arrival might just offer the Gunners a little more balance.

A relieved Emile Smith Rowe felt Arsenal showed their newfound togetherness after needing extra time to see off Newcastle United in the FA Cup. 

The Gunners had to go the distance as they began their defence of the trophy, with in-form midfielder Smith Rowe finding the breakthrough in the 109th minute before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang tucked home Kieran Tierney's cross from close range. 

It could have been a very different story for Smith Rowe, however, who was shown a red card for his challenge on Sean Longstaff during stoppage time after the initial 90 minutes, only for referee Chris Kavanagh to downgrade his decision to a booking after consulting the pitchside monitor. 

"I was really happy, a bit of a relief for me with the incident before - it definitely wasn't intentional - happy to get the goal and get through to the next round," the 20-year-old told BBC Sport. 

"We knew how tough it was going to be, they're a tough opponent. It was about breaking them down." 

Mikel Arteta's decision to bring Smith Rowe into his Premier League starting line-up sparked a three-game winning run, beginning with the 3-1 Boxing Day triumph against Chelsea. 

And, with the game deadlocked, Arteta turned to the bench and his increasingly influential playmaker. 

"From a young kid I have always wanted to play for this club, I am really happy," Smith Rowe added. 

"It shows how together we are, we have been working off the pitch to get closer as a group and it shows." 

Emile Smith Rowe has the "huge potential" to match the exploits of young England stars Phil Foden and Jadon Sancho, according to Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta.

The Gunners begin their FA Cup defence at home to Newcastle United on Saturday, buoyed by a sharp upturn in their Premier League form.

A dominant 3-1 London derby win over Chelsea on Boxing Day sparked an ongoing three-match winning run.

Smith Rowe was handed a starting berth in that game and has kept his place after impressing in the number 10 role, with the 20-year-old giving Arteta's team an overdue shot of creative intent.

In 2017, Smith Rowe was part of the England squad that won the U17 World Cup, with Foden named player of the tournament.

Sancho featured during the group stages before being called back to club action by Borussia Dortmund, and Arteta acknowledged the duo are ahead of Smith Rowe in their development.

"He has huge potential. He really wants it and he has the personality when he goes on the field to express and play the way he can play," said Arteta, who coached Foden and - more briefly - Sancho at Manchester City as part of Pep Guardiola's backroom staff.

"To do it in a consistent way is a different thing. The boys that you mentioned, they've done it. It's true that they're ahead in their development phase because they've played many more minutes and games in the last two seasons.

"But he is capable of doing that. Whether he's going to do it will depend on how he continues to develop, how he takes the chance that he has in front of him and how much we can help him to achieve that."

Underwhelming loan stints at RB Leipzig and Huddersfield Town in the past two years preceded a pre-season shoulder injury, but a player dubbed "The Croydon De Bruyne" by some Arsenal fans has shown he is ready to make up for lost time.

"A lot of things have happened to him in the past year," Arteta acknowledged. "He needs to establish himself here, he needs to be successful here, he needs to really find his role and his position in the team and in the club.

"That will help him to have clear path. We really believe in him. He needs to have no fear and go for it, because he has the quality."

That quality has certainly been to the fore this season, with Smith Rowe's four assists coming at a rate of one every 93.5 minutes across seven appearances in all competitions.

With the youngster in the side, Arsenal average 2.9 goals per game. The 4-1 Europa League triumph over Rapid Vienna – in which he scored – was one of six victories Smith Rowe has been involved in this term, amounting to a win percentage of 85.7 per cent that plummets to 40 in the 20 games he spent as a spectator.

It feels infeasible that Arteta will leave him out of such a large proportion of games again but the former Emirates Stadium skipper pointed towards the examples of Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli, who completed an exciting attacking midfield trident alongside Smith Rowe against Chelsea and Brighton and Hove Albion, when discussing how younger players must have their workloads managed.

That could mean some stints playing in different positions, as Saka has during his fledgling Arsenal career, although Arteta cannot deny the much-needed lift his breakthrough stars have given Arsenal, even as he tries to manage expectations.

"Sometimes a team is a little bit concerned and has some fear because of the results, because of the pressure," he added, before noting the impact through "enthusiasm" the younger members of his squad have had.

"I think they were really helpful because they were re-energising to the team. They pushed the team into a different direction and a different rhythm as well.

"But, of course, the young players need that solidity, experience and maturity that the older players bring. It's a good combination."

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