Is giving the Number 10 shirt to Smith-Rowe a big risk to the youngster?

Arsenal never miss a marketing opportunity. by Dan Smith

They timed confirmation of Smith Rowe’s contract extension with the reveal of his new shirt number.

There’s a reason why our British players are the ones that are asked to model merchandise.

Fans are most likely to associate with either talent who have grown up at the club and/or those who grew up with the Gunners as one of biggest names in the UK, less inclined than foreign players to want to move elsewhere.

Gooners are going to relate to someone who has been part of the set up since 9 years old and will want ‘one of their own’ to succeed.

By giving him the iconic number 10 shirt, Arsenal have hope this could be their highest sold jersey this summer. Number 10, by most supporters, is associated with the squad’s most creative flair player.

While I’m happy the 20-year-old is staying and happy his employers are showing so much belief, the choice of number could be a worrying indication. It’s the clearest sign yet that Arteta has zero intention of bringing in another attacking midfielder.

Our manager tried to improve that position by loaning Odegaard in January but it seems unlikely we can make a long-term deal for the Norwegian.

Aouar is being linked for the second summer transfer window and there have been rumours of a potential bid for Maddison.

Giving Smith-Rowe Ozil’s number has me worried that too much pressure is going to be put on young shoulders.

That’s not to say he’s not good enough to rise to the occasion but it’s putting a lot of responsibility on someone with little experience.

After our worst League finish in 25 years there will be a lot of attention on how we start the season. A slow start to the campaign will mean a spotlight on Smith Rowe, especially if the team are not making chances.

We are yet to know if he can mentally cope with that expectation.

For all the plaudits, he has just 2 goals in 22 Prem fixtures.

If we are serious about catching up with the top 4 (and that’s a big if), can we manage that with a 20-year-old as our sole creative source?

In reality he needs help.

So while I’m delighted Smith Rowe has committed his future to us, I’m hoping him wearing the number 10 shirt doesn’t mean what I think it does?


Be kind in the comments



  1. I don’t think this is the correct interpretation at all. Everything we’ve heard from journalists suggests another AM is a priority.

    Giving him the no.10 and Saka the no.7 sends a message both the these two of their value to the club, but also to all the boys coming through Hale End now that there is a clear path from where they are to being important members of the first XI. Look at how Chelsea have haemorrhaged youth stars this summer in contrast to us holding on to our most prized youth assets.

    Giving these two lads such prominent roles in the squad embeds Colney DNA in the first team culture. This is an incredibly positive move imo.

  2. This is absolutely the right decision he changed the way we played the second half of the season. He is arsenal through and through and has worked he socks off for that shirt. Buying players is not always the solution. We are not in Europe next season so we only have the premiership to concentrate on. I am confident saka pepe Smith rowe martinelli are all going to kick on this season and it feels great that the oldest is 26. We need to move on willock nkeitah reiss Nelson maitland Niles and Clear more paths for our youth to come through. Giving saka and Smith rowe prominent numbers has to be incentives for other players to try and get a chance

  3. According to Transfer Checker, Bernardo Silva has been made available for transfer and Arsenal are interested. As I predicted, we’d likely get a left-footed attacking midfielder if we want a new one

    Getting a left-footed AM like Odegaard, Silva, Lemar, Barak, Paqueta or Pereira will make us able to start two different AM types in 4-3-3 or other formation. Buying Aouar or Maddison will only limit us in fewer formation options and they won’t complement our existing right-footed AMs

    About Smith-Rowe’s new shirt number and Ben White’s transfer, it shows that Arsenal are trying to build a strong English clique in the squad, after failing with their foreign mercenaries. Smith-Rowe also deserves it, after showing that he was our most powerful AM in some big matches last season

    1. @gotanidea
      I remember us having a “strong English clique” a few years back. What happened then? IJS

      1. Most of them were plagued with injuries and didn’t play in a stable system. If the current set of young English players can avoid long-term injuries and if Arteta can make his system more stable, I believe we’ll see better results

        1. Wasn’t a stable system?

          With Wenger’s English core he rarely changed the system, tactics, or starting 11.

          Sorry but don’t understand what was unstable about it under Wenger. If anything he overplayed his English core.

          1. The fact is that they were either decent but not good enough (Kieran Gibbs, Jenkinson, Walcott), injured (Ramsey, Wilshere, chambers) or good but not well used (oxlade chamberlain the last year). I also think Wenger over mediatized this “core” while it was just a try to go back to the normality for an English club. Or “repair” what he did after emptying the team of all its English players during 10 years without replacing him (which was one of the reasons of our long trophy less period). Some will argue English players were overpriced but I remember that people urged Wenger to sign Gary Cahill and Scott parker (and good leaders that we lacked) but Wenger stubbornness did not want to be told who to sign.

          2. His system made us concede frequently from set-pieces and counter-attacks. Had it been more stable, he could’ve gotten an EPL or UCL trophy after the Invincibles time and Mourinho’s Park the Bus tactics wouldn’t be so successful against him

        2. Gai
          Well said .Arteta needs to make his system stable. His often switch in system/formation doesn’t allow the players to master the demands of their roles and position awareness. Injuries and indiscipline that makes our players get red cards when their season is picking needs to be seriously avoided if we are to make any head way in our position next season.

  4. Ozil number?
    Why didn’t you say Berkamp number?
    Dennis won things here while Ozil despite millions spent on him couldn’t deliver the EPL title

    Odegaad was not better than ESR when he was here bar our game with West Ham

    Arteta will build the team around ESR 10 and Saka 7. People forget that Tony Adams was 19 when he was made captain.

      1. Surely you are just trying to wind people up. At the club level many long time supporters would rate Bergkamp the greatest of all time.

        Simply absurd to say Ozil is better than Bergkamp.

        Primo trolling at it’s finest.

      2. Sentiments apart, in the era that Berkamp played Ozil was no March. Bergkamb remains the best AM Arsenal ever had till date. And was not lazy like Ozil. I mean Ozil was really gifted in what he does. But sir, not like Bergkamp if you really watched Arsenal then or otherwise watch the videos

      3. Younger fans only know of Van persie and Ozil (wilshere doesn’t fit in this category of legends) who wore the number 10 shirt and exhibited extra ordinary qualities while wearing the shirt.

  5. It depends on how much pressure ESR can handle. But I only hope we still get another CAM to support him, either Aouar or Madison. ESR and Saka are extremely talented and deserve their Arsenal shirt numbers and it is also a reminder to aspiring Hale End graduates that they can make it to the first team. Also I hope Willock is not sold out or loaned out, he is too good a player not to be in Arsenal.

  6. I am pretty sure part of the contract negotiations revolved around ESR’s role in the team going forward and his shirt number. By saying to Arteta I want this shirt, he is sending out a clear message no matter who comes into the club, he wants to be the top creative player in the team for years to come.

    I love this, and cant wait to see him playing live in a few week’s time.

  7. You may be right but then again it may mean a change from a 4-2-3-1 set up to a 4-3-3 system which has proved successful for Liverpool and Man City. We will all find out shortly.

  8. I think esr change our team during the second half of the season he is a good attacking midfielder he deserved the number I think it will motivate him to work harder.COYG

  9. Giving Emile Smith Rowe no 10 shirt for me is a good suggestion, because the way he play last session, he plays a good roles. so he really deserve it.

  10. Sorry DAN, but this piece is a vain attempt to make your so called fears fit your theory, but not the facts. We all know another one creative attacking midfielder is needed. One at the very least, preferably more .

    It is nonsensical to expect ESR to carry the entire burden and it won’t be happening. Too much fuss is made about mere numbers IMO. Yes, the ten shirt is iconic and an honour to wear but that is ALL it means, however much fuss is made.

    With names on shirts now, all numbers are pointless anyway in my view, and are simply marketing tools and an excuse to get extract still more money from those “fashionistas”(horse laugh!!) who buy shirts, which goes to greedy players and their even greedier agents, aka parasites! That is the commercial reality !


    To my mind, as well as most Gooners, I am certain another player will be coming before the window closes. The only remaining question is who and how soon. Who and when, NOT if!

    1. At Arsenal, the number 10 shirt is iconic but also hugely significant in the case of ESR. As I said in my previous post it’s a sign of ambition from a young player, he wants to be the main man. ESR could have just signed his contract and accepted whatever squad number he was given.

      But he is sending a message to Arteta about what he wants to acheive with Arsenal. This article explains things well. I love that a young player has actually asked for the number 10.

  11. Smith Rowe is a great talent. No doubting that but has he truly proved himself to warrant a number 10 or not having another creative player? I will say No. We are talking about a player who played for just 6 months. I know the competition Foden faced before making city first 11. Foden had to contend with Silva, benado, KDB and gundogan. We should be bringing in Madison and let Smith Rowe compete and see if he can strive. I am not doubting his talent but arsenal might just be making a very big mistake putting their hope on a player that has yet to prove himself. Even our Saka had to compete with William, pepe, Auba, Reis Nelson and Martinelli for a spot in the team. He didn’t just stroll in. With all the hype surrounding greenwood, he still isn’t in united first 11 and he has to compete with experienced players and mind you greenwood have spent more time in united first team than Rowe and have even proven himself more than Rowe. I just hope we don’t regret this

    1. Maddison is hugely inconsistent. What are you talking about? He had 3 decent months before he got injured, then disappeared for the rest of the season not even starting in the cup final.

      ESR was under huge pressure last season, the team where in disarray when he started that Chelsea game. Then he and Saka dragged us out of the mud and possibly saved Arteta from the sack. You cannot underestimate how much of an impact he has made since his breakthrough. Look at the stats, we win a lot more games when he is playing than when he is not.

  12. “If that is the case and you are on board and you show that commitment, desire, quality and talent every single day, you are at the right club at the right moment, and I think Emile feels the same way.”

    “He asked for [the No 10 shirt], so that shows you the ambition and desire. I prefer players who ask for more than maybe they can take but if they believe they can do it, don’t put a limit on it. When he asked me and asked the club that he would like to get that [number], okay, let’s go.

    “We talked a little bit, we discussed it and he knows the consequences of that, but he feels prepared to do it and if he is prepared to do it, then I am going to be right behind him to try to make him as comfortable and as happy as possible to do what he wants to do.”

    – Mr Bad Man Management.

    Oh before I forget

    “Absolutely there is another character in this dressing room that transmits every value that I would like to transmit to the club and our fans [and it is Kieran]
    Again, it is young, hungry, talented, and people with huge desire and again he has all four ingredients – and he didn’t want to talk about anything other than staying here.
    He had a really, really good season after a really difficult start at the club and I really value people that when things aren’t going for them, they don’t give up. Kieran didn’t give up, he needed support and I think the club gave him a lot of support, but he was really willing to turn that situation around and prove people wrong if people were doubting him.

    That character, I think it shows on the pitch – when anything happens that is not going for us, you don’t give up, you just raise your level, try to be better and transmit that to the rest of the team so they all believe.

    Kieran has this capacity, and Emile as well, to lift the crowd with an action, Gabi Martinelli has this capacity – and this is something you either have or you don’t have.”

    – Mr Doesn’t Likes the young kids and hates Martinelli.

    Notice how he didn’t even included anybody 25 and above and ignored the senior players when talking about this quality he pointed out?

    What do I know anyway, he hates our youngsters and is killing their careers.

    1. I too noticed how he included only the players who signed a contract extension in the past few months.

      Any theory on why Saka was left out?

  13. I wouldn’t say the giving of the Arsenal’s playmaker NO10 Jersey to ESR is a mistake by Arsenal. But a gamble embarked upon by the club to hope it will payoff handsomely at end. And i think if ESR becomes challenged to raise the bar of his game playing higher than it was last season when he broke-in into the first team as a regular starter. The sky could be his limit next season in goals scoring and goals scoring assisting for Arsenal comes next season’s campaign.

    On a different topic, I will like it if Arsenal FC under the current management managing the club now will revert to the Arsene Wenger’s era policy at the club. Whereby any Gunner who has reached the age of 30 years while still playing for the club could have his deal extended for him I think by 2 years more only in the first instance. And then by yearly extension basis if the club still want to keep him and he too still wants to remain with them. I think that was what was offered to the former Arsenal leftback player – Sagna. But he rejected the offer to go Man City on the free.

    But even then it’s still better to avoid been caught with one’s pant down. On the free or not on the free. Handing a 3 years contract to a 32 year old player whose goals returns at his former club was bellowed average was a big mistake committed by Arsenal that should never be repeated again. More so, as they are fully aware that the player who they reportedly gave 200k/w contract to, is not a CR7 nor Ibramovich who have the pedigree to deliver goals in number even in their advancing age.

    I like very much indeed the Arsenal youth policy now being switched to by Arteta and Edu. This is great. And I strongly believe Arsenal will receive high dividends from their stake on their former Hale End graduates as they grow strong and stronger in the first team squad.

  14. I think it’s mad giving a player in his thirties a 3 year contract, every club should give players 30 or over 1 year contracts then if the season goes well for the player offer them another years contract and so on, that means when the player is not up to it any more let them leave, we have being stung with ozil, willian, and now auba…

  15. The attitude of media & some arsenal fans is really strange. No doubt Smith is great talent and should be retained and valued but how is it correct to sell Willock who in comparison has done more than Smith ? There is not enough pressure /demand from fans & media to keep Willock. It would be a blunder to sell him.

  16. Just trawled thru NewsNow and NOT ONE positive justarsenal article
    What is it with you lot

    1. I wrote well done on arsenal extending youngsters contracts
      Who to follow at the Olympics
      The mind series and a book review
      Maybe people choose to see what they want

  17. I see this kids being hyped up like Wilshere was. A couple of good matches don’t make him great.

    1. Anyone that doesn’t want us to bring another number 10 because of Smith Rowe needs to ask himself some questions?
      1. How consistently long has Smith Rowe been playing? 6 months, 1 year, 2 years etc.
      2. Is he better than our rivals no 10 ? Mount, KDB, Bruno, Grealish, Madison, James Rodriguez or Pereira.
      1. We shouldn’t be depending on someone that isn’t a proven performer yet. What if he turns out to be a half season wonder. Then our season is definitely over and we become a laughing stock since our iconic number 10 becomes a bench warmer.

      2. To become the best then we need to get the best especially if we want to make top 4. Get Madison, Aoaur, Olmo and let Smith Rowe compete and prove that he can bench these players.

      1. Spot on Alex … if we don’t bring in a quality AM in this window it will be another poor showing from arteta … far more important that replacing Leno who is a decent keeper and our defensive record clearly shows that it’s the attacking side of game that let us down last season… that said olmo underwhelms and Maddison is overpriced .. the fact that arteta and co failed to bring in buendia doesn’t make me hugely optimistic

      1. So if i gave Leno a No73 shirt. What difference would it make to the team, club, or the individual player?
        Would they become Messi or they will become sh!t like a sunday league amateur?

  18. although I could functionally care less about the whole numbers debate, it’s clear that this was a negotiated demand, which is probably why this deal took so long to get over the line…I can totally understand ESR’s desire to wear the #10, especially after the way he was summarily shoehorned out wide once Ode arrived in North London, but if this means that we aren’t bringing in another creative option in the midfield, this could be a long season and likely Arteta’s last

  19. Its just a blinking number on a shirt, it doesnt matter a jot. Ozil disgraced the shirt anyway, so ESR hasn’t got nothing to replace.

  20. I don’t think with the position he plays he should be judged by the number of goals he scores.
    More chances created.

  21. I think giving ESR a new long term contract will do him and his career much more damage than giving him the number 10 shirt.
    He is now tied to Arsenal, and will have to swallow all of the indignities to follow, like having his own number 10 seat on the Bench!!

    I really hope I am wrong about this, but reading between the lines of the players Arsenal seem to be chasing, I fear for ESR!

    If Arteta plays a 4-3-3 formation, where does ESR fit in.
    Arteta is trying to replace Odegaard, who played in the middle three. If you believe the reports he wants Maddison (plus all his baggage) to take that role.

    If Arsenal get Tammy Abrahams from Madame Tussuads,
    he will play the number 9 (or Lacazette will if we can’t sell him).
    Then we have 2 spots left for Auba, Saka, Pepe, Nellie and ESR.
    As Arteta has said, ESR needs to score goals, so I assume he meant ESR had to do that to secure one of these two places. His game is creating opportunities, so again I say, I fear for him.

    Additionally, where and when Willock, Eddie N and Balogun play is anybody’s guess.

  22. ESR plays well “second half of season” and you promote him to Downing Street, Martinez plays well a whole season at villa and you say he’s only proven himself for one season!!!
    You really are a funny bunch😂
    ESR plays a huge bluff (and he did) and you love him. Martinez plays a bluff having waited 10 years and you say get him out as no player should bluff and think he is bigger than club.
    Listen to yourselves. Get the FACTS then comment but don’t pretend to be factual when guessing. ESR is a talent but over coming SEASONS? Let’s see. Jury is out, I will not assume anything

  23. What do you mean by disgraced? Ozil was one of the best no 10’s (creative midfielders) in the world whether you like it or not. Check his stats figures and compliment it with his videos. He left alot of esteem and respect embedded in the 10 shirt.
    Also plz help me understand how shirt Numbers dont matter.

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