Monthly Archives: September 2022
Emile Smith-Rowe: More Challenges to his Form and Fitness
Emile Smith-Rowe was one of the standout performers for the Gunners last season, scoring 11 goals in 37 games, with 10 in the Premier League. He also carried his good form on the international scene, making three appearances for England and scoring one goal in the 10-0 drubbing of San Marino. Smith-Rowe was a regular fixture for Mikel Arteta with a certain Gabriel Martinelli itching for a chance to strut his stuff, and following a bout with COVID, Smith-Rowe lost his place to Martinelli, and had to make do with recurrent substitute appearances, where he kept scoring week after week.
Losing his place to Martinelli didn’t bode well for Smith-Rowe and he failed to regain the early season form that saw him cement his first team berth in the side. His fitness continued to be a thorn in his flesh and he managed to finish the campaign with a personal best of 11 goals.
Fast forward to the new season and Smith-Rowe didn’t get much preseason game time in compared to Martinelli, and this was evident in the team selections for the new campaign with Martinelli being an ever-present in the side, while Smith-Rowe had to make do with four substitute appearances against Leicester, Bournemouth, Aston Villa and most recently, the team’s only defeat of the campaign to Manchester United. Smith-Rowe was odds on to get his first start of the campaign in the Europa League win over FC Zurich, but his injury problems ensured that he missed that game.
Arsenal has confirmed that Smith-Rowe has undergone surgery on his groin, as the player had been experiencing some discomfort, which clearly affected his training and ultimately, first team appearances. The club has also confirmed that his rehabilitation program has commenced and he will be out to December 2022 at the very least. Club gaffer, Arteta, had voiced his frustrations of Smith-Rowe’s unavailability earlier in the season,
“He’s a kid that loves playing football. It’s the biggest thing in his life. And when he’s not capable of doing that, especially after the run of games and performances that he had with us the year before, it’s just difficult.
“But injuries are part of football that you’re going to get at some stage of your career. It’s how you face those difficult moments and now you make the next step.”
Smith-Rowe’s injury will cement Martinelli’s first-team status in the team for the foreseeable future, but Arsenal has to look from within to cover the gap between now and the World Cup break with the games coming thick and fast. Eddie Nketiah and Gabriel Jesus are adept playing on the left wing, but this injury paves the way for a certainly forgotten figure, Reiss Nelson, that has been on the trenches for the entirety of his Arsenal career.
I would expect Martinelli’s minutes, especially in the Europa League, to be managed, so Nelson can use that competition as a platform to showcase his talents again to at least give the manager something to think about, or just audition himself for a potential buyer in the January transfer window.
I hope Smith-Rowe recovers well from this injury and focus on his football in the turn of the new year.
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