Emile Smith Rowe has long been identified as a player who could potentially make the breakthrough at Arsenal, and the prospect took another significant step forward in that regard last night.
Smith Rowe, who has established himself as an important part of Arsenal’s U23 side this season, was the 19th man for Arsenal’s Europa League game at home to Ostersunds.
While it may have been a frustrating game for Arsenal, it was a notable occasion for Smith Rowe as it indicated that Arsene Wenger is fully aware of his development and is prepared to give him chances with the senior squad in the near future.
The England U18 international is usually deployed as a winger but of late he has been used in central midfield in a bid to improve his defensive attributes and overall tactical understanding of the game.
While the suspicion persists that he is perhaps still more effective as a winger, where he can weave his way past opponents to excellent effect, the 17-year-old has also shown signs that he can make an impact as a midfielder.
Smith Rowe has an excellent passing range and relishes playing precise through-balls into the path of his team-mates, while he is also capable of getting into dangerous attacking positions and finding the net himself.
The prospect has also become rather stronger physically this season and it is expected that from next campaign onwards he will start to become increasingly involved with the first-team squad.
Smith Rowe has already trained with the squad on several occasions and hasn’t looked out of place, showcasing his superb close control and remaining composed when being closed down by senior players.
A product of Arsenal’s Hale End academy, Smith Rowe is a very exciting prospect and it will be intriguing to chart his development over the next few seasons.
Last night the youngster was given a brief indication of what first-team life is like, and it seems almost certain that it won’t be the last time he arrives with the senior squad for a game at Emirates Stadium.