Will Smith-Rowe be benched in favour of Odegaard?

Paul Merson claims that Martin Odegaard and Emile Smith Rowe are similar players who will offer Arsenal almost the same thing before claiming if Mikel Arteta has to choose one, he would pick the Norwegian over Smith Rowe.

Arsenal has just secured the permanent signing of Odegaard for £30m after pursuing him for much of the summer.

He spent the second half of last season with them at the Emirates, on loan from Real Madrid.

His performance impressed Arteta and the Gunners made their intention to sign him permanently clear from the beginning.

He returned to Madrid and was told he wasn’t a part of the first team plans by Carlo Ancelotti.

The Spaniards then accepted Arsenal’s bid for his signature.

The Gunners also have the fast-rising Smith Rowe who can play as a number 10, a similar role to that of Odegaard and Merson reckons there was no need to bring Odegaard back when they had the Englishman.

He then claimed that if it becomes important to bench one of them, Smith Rowe would be the one to miss out on a starting place.

The 53-year-old said in his Daily Star column as quoted by The Sun: “What sort of message does signing Odegaard send to Emile Smith Rowe?”

“I can see why he held out signing a new contract. When Odegaard came on loan he ended up playing out on the wing.

“But Emile Smith Rowe is a No 10. He’s the future at Arsenal. He came through the ranks and he makes things happen.

“He is the one who is going to suffer most from them buying Odegaard.

“What really is the difference between them anyway?

“I think they are too similar. But I know who’s not getting picked if it starts going wrong and it won’t be the £30m new signing.”

Tags Emile Smith Rowe Martin Odegaard Paul Merson


  1. Feel sorry for Mr Paul Merson. Guess he must have lost touch with football in recent times, especially Arsenal.

    Just because they both share the same jersey number – ESR at Arsenal and Ode with the Norwegian national team – doesn’t mean they are similar type players.

    Guess the next thing we’ll hear from him is how we failed to utilize the “No.10” potential of Gallas during his time at Arsenal by playing him at defence.

    1. funny comment @ VasC.

      These guys dont think before they talk most often. We need more creative midfielders who can play in multiple positions.

      Man City have KDB, Bernardo Silva, Grealish.
      Creativity is needed. squad rotation, injuries and squad depth is key

      1. Creativity is much needed. But, I don’t feel that Saka, ESR, Odegaard and Martinelli are less creative. They just need the freedom to express themselves on the pitch. Just looking at their faces clearly show that they are not enjoying their game. I simply don’t know what exactly is holding them back from expressing themselves freely on the pitch.

  2. I’d quite like to see this type of formation in action (when all are fit):

    Wing backs could be swapped in for more/less attacking minded players depending on the opposition, White’s job would be to support the CMs to give them more freedom to push forward. Width from wing backs, creativity from AMs.

    Any takers?

      1. I don’t think Xhaka is that highly rated by AM & Edu either. There is lot of deadwood to move on and many come ahead on Xhaka presently. You can only replace that many in a years time. I think his contract extension in nothing but a ploy to sell him next year. At lest we get some money with 2 years left than 1 year left. Will recover his wages of this year this strategy.

        1. That makes sense especially as Xhaka appears to have fancied a move so both can be kept happy next year

        2. Wish I could be as optimistic as you, Aj. But, I don’t believe that Xhaka’s value isn’t going to vary much between having one year left on his contract and two or more. We are never going to make a profit from the investment made on Xhaka.

          But, my real concern with the Xhaka extension is that the manager who is handing him the extension may not be here more than two seasons, if lucky. What if the next manager doesn’t fancy Xhaka in his plans? Aren’t we creating a platform for a new deadwood?

  3. This man is clueless. Even if they are the same type of players, we should have only Smith-Rowe so as to be without an AM when he’s injured.

  4. It depends what sort of no.10 you are talking about? Are you talking about a Bergkamp or an Ozil? Because in my mind they were both very different. I think ESR could definitely be more of a bergkamp type 10. Whereas as Odegaard is more of an Ozil type 10. However I think at the moment neither are playing like that. I see ESR playing more like a Merson or a Ljungberg and if he reaches their level we should be very happy with that. Odegaard for me also likes to come from deep, I’m not sure who I would like him to but, he is defo nowhere near bergkamp or Ozil in their prime, because he has at least 3-5 years to reach that level.

    As I always say look at your squad and get as many of your best players on the pitch as possible in positions and a formation that brings out their best.

  5. Bashing Arsenal is flavour of the season (or has been for few year).

    No doubt Arteta has not done anything to inspire confidence. And time taken by club to close transfers has been a problem as usual. Fans are right and deserve better.

    But Paul is wrong. There are two type of leaders one who lead people on principals and others who say what followers want to listen….. not what they believe but what they think people/fans want to here. Paul is later category like many other arsenal bashing social media click/like hungry commentators.

    In may years I think Arsenal is getting something right and let me explain why I think so.

    We have been rotting for years. We can’t give PL/CL to players. Question is why a player joins us? Why they chose us? There is no such thing we being big club, else player power wouldn’t have been such issue here.

    Without competing for Pl/CL we have attracted names because we gave high salary and we signed players on their last major contract. Why William signed? For trophies or last contract to get major money? Ozil… practically last contract before he goes to retirement club….money oriented. Auba has unfortunately dip in form just after his last major contract. Sanchez was too money oriented too, moved from City to Utd for money and form dropped !

    We need to sign players who have reasons to perform well. Under 25…. who at least not for Arsenal but will work hard to get next good contract at any club (arsenal or otherwise). William gave everything at Chelsea in last year…. why? For better contract? Ozil had good form before he signed his last contract with us.

    Reality is Arsenal is underperforming and we can’t get big names unless we throw money or give platform to grow to relatively younger ones. Later slows to get the culture and commitment right. Allows manger to get control of squad (I mean good managers).

    This year all players that have signed have to play for future too, their future more importantly than Arsenal’s.

    Second good this that’s visible is that we are moving on players who create -ve culture in locker room. Locker room talks, camaraderie, leadership among players plays important role in performance on pitch. If we don’t do it then we have more of Guendouzi turing out who flout their salaries rather than performance on football pitch.

    1st time seeing some thoughts in player recruitment planning.

    And hopping Laca stays … he has to play for his last contract this year. Better to milk that performance than sell for peanuts.

  6. wake up people, he’s spot on about this…likely why Arteta was giving ESR the gears publicly during the Chelski game, just like his passive aggressive and calculated maneuvers before the Spuds game last season…if Arteta remains tactically rigid, ESR will inevitably be shoehorned like last season, in favour of Ode, and, if this happens, there’s considerable competition for that particular spot, especially if Auba remains at the club…not to mention, Arteta even spoke about Balo playing wider, which would mean that, at the very least, he could be in direct competitions with Pepe, Saka, Balo, Auba and maybe even Marts for playing time…the only way this quandary is avoided is if our manager adopts a new base model tactical formation…of course, I hope and pray for that potential philosophical change

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