During a time when many Arsenal supporters questioned Mikel Arteta’s abilities, Emile Smith Rowe, according to Arteta, was instrumental in turning his time at the club around.
Back in December 2020, the Gunners were in the midst of a 56-day winless streak. During that time, Arsenal suffered a string of humiliating home losses to Aston Villa, Wolves, and Burnley, as well as a Carabao Cup loss to Manchester City.
Prior to Chelsea’s Boxing Day visit to the Emirates Stadium, calls for Arteta’s dismissal increased, and the under-fire former club captain was forced to select a haphazard team after a string of injuries.
Young players Gabriel Martinelli, Bukayo Saka, and Smith Rowe, who was starting his first Premier League match, all shone in a 3-1 victory that set the stage for what was to come in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Willian’s absences.
Reflecting on one of the most trying times of his tenure, Arteta claimed that there was a huge wall and that it was really difficult for them.
The timing of that game was crucial. He doesn’t like to single out a player, but he believes Emile Smith Rowe is likely the culprit because that is when he really enters the picture, something changes, and that significantly helped shift momentum.
It has still taken Arteta two more years and a sizable investment to create a team that can regularly compete with the domestic elite.
However, if they defeat Wolves at Molineux this evening, Arteta’s rapidly developing squad will finish first in the Premier League as they head into the World Cup break.
Arteta described the Wolves’ situation as unique given that the struggling Midlands club was playing in their final match before Julen Lopetegui became their new manager.
Evidently, they are in a situation right now with very unique circumstances as well. He believes Steve did a fantastic job analyzing the games they played.