Arsenal have had no shortage of academy graduates making it to the first team in recent years. Bukayo Saka, Eddie Nketiah and Emile Smith Rowe are all proof that their academy is thriving.
Smith Rowe first staked his claim in the first team when he was thrown into the deep end against Chelsea during the 2020-21 season.
The young gunners’ team came out surprise 3-1 winners in the fixture and served as the final nail in the coffin for Frank Lampard as Chelsea manager, with Smith Rowe playing a starring role.
The youngster hasn’t looked back since, getting a bumper contract and the coveted number 10 shirt after that season ended.
In the 2021-21 season, he was the second-highest goal scorer in the league for the club, with 10. Only fellow academy graduate Saka had more with 11 goals.
However, this season, Smith Rowe has largely struggled with fitness and barely featured for The Gunners in the league. He is also yet to register a goal.
He was on the brink of return but faced a setback after a thigh strain ruled him out of the recent 1-0 defeat at the hands of Manchester City that sent them out of the FA Cup.
And while there is no set return date for him, the forgotten man could well prove to be Arsenal’s ace in the hole during the final part of the season.
While the club has had an unprecedented season thus far, one glaring issue has been the depth on the wings. There was no deputy for Gabriel Martinelli before the arrival of Leandro Trossard from Brighton in January.
On the other side, Saka’s deputy, Reiss Nelson, has also struggled to stay fit over the course of the season. That said, he did show a spark when he scored a brace in the 5-0 win against Nottingham Forest.
Arsenal’s goals this season have largely been shared around. Odegaard is the leading goal scorer in the league with 8 goals, while Martinelli and Saka have scored 7 each.
If Arsenal are to keep up this intensity, they will need as much help from the entire squad as possible. Smith Rowe is one of the most significant goal threats at the club right now, as he showed last season.
When the current wingers aren’t firing, the club needs other options that can threaten just as much. Trossard has already shown glimpses of this.
With Trossard and Smith Rowe, Arsenal could have found the depth that they have been constantly criticised for lacking.