If there was a testimony of how bad an injury can ruin a footballer’s career, it would be Emile Smith-Rowe’s story. The Arsenal Academy graduate was at some point one of the most crucial players at the club and even got called up for the England national team, the Three Lions. Things soon changed for the worse as he sustained a groin injury and has since struggled to even start at Arsenal.
In the 2021/22 season, he was the second highest scorer for Arsenal in the league, netting 10 goals to finish one behind top scorer Bukayo Saka. This season, he hasn’t started a game for Arsenal so far, and that’s not to say his talent is in question. It is a factor of a combination of issues, mostly what happened when he chose to take a surgery for his problematic groin, and also largely influenced by Arsenal’s transfer activity. The forward had the option to carry on playing with the problematic groin but he thought surgery was more a long-term intervention. With the surgery, he was initially ruled out for four months and indeed made a comeback after rehabilitation, with appearances against Oxford United and Tottenham Hotspur. He however suffered another setback t5hat would keep him out for another month.
With Arsenal seeking to keep their place at the top of the table, a cover had to be brought in and that would be Leandro Trossard, from Brighton. The Belgian was an immediate hit, and Smith-Rowe’s tribulations deepened as the new signing’s appearances coincided with Arsenal’s rise. The Gunners enjoyed top reviews and the betting odds for England Premier League matches on SportyTrader largely pointed to Arsenal as favorites. With Trossard’s contribution came improvement in the Arsenal forward line as Martin Odegaard benefitted from his creativity, Fabio Vieira started getting more opportunities and when Gabriel Jesus returned from injury, the Belgian international dropped to the bench, which meant Smith-Rowe went further down the pecking order.
So the big question is, what happens to the promising talent that the Englishman is? Well, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta says Smith-Rowe is part of his long-term plans. That’s good for the youngster, but what the player needs is time on the pitch, which can’t be assured for now. It would have been easier if Arsenal was still playing in the Europa League or FA Cup, but the Gunners suffered exits earlier. Smith-Rowe can however draw confidence from the chances his academy mate, Reiss Nelson has got, and the impact. It has however taken a lot of patience from Nelson, who is also not assured of a long stay at Arsenal despite having a major contribution in the Gunners’ title race. The next few months will be key for Smith-Rowe, who at some point was the subject of interest from Aston Villa, now managed by former Arsenal manager Unai Emery, who has a good rating for the youngster.
Whichever way this issue goes, it is clear that Arsenal, Arteta and Smith Rowe are in for a big decision soon. The promises Arteta makes at this point in time will be held dearly by the youngster. The transfer decisions Arsenal make will inform the youngster’s future. It should not be ruled out that the player’s desires could lead him away from his boyhood club, as at 22, he is not getting any younger.
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