With his underwhelming finish in Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Leicester at King Power Stadium last Saturday, Emile Smith Rowe scored his fourth goal in seven appearances, equaling his all-season total just a couple of months. after the new one.
The graduate of the Academy was challenged to contribute multiple goals by Mikel Arteta during its breakthrough campaign and is delivering. Smith Rowe, already one of the most exciting young players in the country, is now taking his game to another level.
His importance to his club grows from week to week. There have been three Premier League goals and two assists so far, giving him the highest total among Arsenal players this season. “It was just great,” Arteta said recently.
Gareth Southgate said Smith Rowe was “very close” to doing the England senior national team in September, and while he may feel unlucky to have lost again this week, it’s definitely only a matter of time before he gets his chance.
When he does, he hopes to catch him as he did at Arsenal.
The 21-year-old was instrumental in their improvement last season and embraced the responsibility of taking on the number 10 jersey after signing a new contract with his boys’ club in July.
Together with Bukayo Saka, he has come to symbolize an exciting new chapter at Arsenal. His progress is accelerated in the new campaign, and it is the result of hard work and meticulous attention to detail behind the scenes.
Increasing his goal threat was a priority.
Towards the end of last season, when he sat down with people close to him to discuss ways he could improve his production, it was noted that others in his position, such as Jack Grealish, Mason Mount, and Bruno Fernandes, typically average between two and 3.5 shots for 90 minutes.
Smith Rowe, on the other hand, dropped 0.8 shots every 90 minutes. There has been a concerted effort to change it. He focused more on getting into the opponent’s box and tried to develop a better understanding of when to throw rather than pass.
The improvement was dramatic. In 10 Premier League appearances this season, Smith Rowe has already made more shots than he had in 20 last time. Basically, they also came from better locations, giving them a better chance of finding the network.
With the help of Arteta and his coaching staff, Smith Rowe improved his running times and developed a knack for shadowing in the opposing area not tracked by defenders.
Those qualities can be seen in his recent goals against Leicester, Tottenham and AFC Wimbledon, all of which were first dispatched from the center of the area and originated from cuts.
Smith Rowe still feels there’s more to him in terms of shooting and goals – even Arteta is pushing him – but those one-touch refinements reflect how he simplified his game.
The youngster sees less ball, his touches in 90 minutes have dropped from 57.9 last season to 49.7 the new season, but he is doing Moreover with it. There has been a greater emphasis on efficiency and influencing games more directly.
Where once he was more inclined to leave the ball to a teammate, now he tries to carry it on himself.
In fact, Smith Rowe’s dribble numbers have risen even more sharply than his shots.
His average of 2.1 successful appearances for 90 minutes is nearly four times higher than last season and puts him on a similar level to Grealish, Mohamed Salah and Raheem Sterling.
As a result, he is passing less, but with more immediacy and more intention of hurting his opponents.
The statistics prove it. His forward pass rate rose from 19.8 percent to 26.7 percent. His pass rate for the last third also increased, from 83.6% to 89.1%.
Perhaps most impressive, despite playing closer to the opponent’s goal and taking more risks with his distribution, Smith Rowe’s passing success rate has jumped to 90% – the highest of any Arsenal player. this season and further proof of its growing efficiency.
Smith Rowe’s recent progress is due to a combination of factors, but he has certainly benefited from uninterrupted pre-season, a luxury he hasn’t had before the previous two seasons.
In the summer of 2019, his preparations were hampered by a growth-related groin injury he had aggravated while on loan at RB Leipzig the previous season.
A year later, following a captivating loan spell with Huddersfield Town in the league, he found himself catching up after sustaining a shoulder injury during a closed-door friendly against QPR at Arsenal headquarters. in London Colney.
This time, with no injuries and having finished well last season, he was determined to capitalize, traveling to Portugal for a pre-preseason retreat with an Arsenal physiotherapist and a small group of players that included Calum Chambers, Hector Bellerin and Rob Holding.
When the new season came, he was feeling sharper than ever. Indeed, even during Arsenal’s difficult start, when they lost their first three Premier League games, his performances were a bright spot.
Smith Rowe has always been dedicated to training and preparation, but in recent months he is reaping the rewards of greater attention also to his nutrition.
He started taking home the meals prepared for him by Arsenal chefs and recently award earned by Arteta for embracing “every detail” in its quest for improvement.
Now, three months into the season, a player whose playing time previously had to be carefully managed has appeared in all but one of Arsenal’s 13 matches, proving to be a key figure in their resumption of form and amassing more minutes than anyone else.
He matured physically – Sky Sports expert Jamie Carragher described it as “the best player I’ve ever seen running with the ball in the Premier League” during Arsenal’s recent 3-1 win against Aston Villa – and the speed and explosiveness that are coming to the fore has also been carefully honed.
As an Academy player during the off-season, he worked with Team GB speed coaches Jonas Tawiah-Dodoo and Marvin Rowe, gathering biomechanical knowledge and techniques that proved invaluable. At 15, he was even told he had the athletic skills to be a runner if football didn’t work for him.
Fortunately, there was never much doubt that it would find its way into football. The English side remain out of reach for now, but if his progress at Arsenal continues at the same pace, it won’t be long before Emile Smith Rowe becomes impossible to ignore.
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