Arsenal’s latest Hale end graduate Emile Smith Rowe has won a well-deserved call up to England’s U21 setup for the group stages of the U21 European Championships, set to be played between the 25th and 31st March 2021.
It will be Smith Rowe’s first time in the Under-21 squad, continuing his record of representing England at every youth level, and follows an impressive period in the Arsenal side, in which he has contributed 4 assists in 13 Premier League games.
Smith Rowe joins fellow Gunner Eddie Nketiah in Aidy Boothroyd’s 23-man squad, whilst the likes of Mason Greenwood, Callum Hudson Odoi, and Curtis Jones have all also been included.
Making his mark
Smith Rowe was thrown in at the deep end, making his first Premier League start of the season against Chelsea at the Emirates stadium.
He took just 56 minutes to register his first assist, finding fellow Hale End graduate Bukayo Saka on the edge of the Chelsea box, who curled the ball past Edouard Mendy for Arsenal’s third goal of the night.
Smith Rowe’s performance was rewarded with a run of starts, as he made the No.10 position his own in Mikel Arteta’s side and became affectionately known as the “Croydon De Bruyne” due to his south London upbringing.
It is no exaggeration that the teenager provided some much-needed life in an otherwise struggling Arsenal side, helping them turn around their horrible pre-Christmas form through his quick ball movement and clever supporting runs.
The January addition of fellow attacking midfielder Martin Odegaard, on a six-month loan from Real Madrid, cast doubts about his short-term position in the side, with many questioning whether the pair could co-exist.
However, Smith Rowe, nominally stationed on the left-hand side to accommodate the 22-year-old Norwegian, has continued to flourish in red and white, linking up with both Kieran Tierney and Odegaard to good effect and extending the feel-good factor that he has brought to the side.
Smith Rowe will not be guaranteed a start in England’s group games against Switzerland, Portugal and Croatia despite his good club form, with manager Aidy Boothyroyd favouring a 343 formation in the Young Lions last outing, a 5-0 demolition of Albania.
Playing without a recognised number 10 could see Smith Rowe forced out wide once again, where he will face stiff competition from Chelsea’s Hudson-Odoi, and Crystal Palace’s Ebere Eze.
The jump that the young Gunner has made since his introduction into the Arsenal side is tremendous, however, and he will surely be unfazed by this next, exciting step for the twenty-year-old midfielder.