Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith-Rowe broke through into the Arsenal first team about the same time, and although Saka was ever present last season for the Gunners, his fellow Hale End graduate only managed 21 starts and ended up looking like a supersub, although to be fair he did manage to score a lot of goals when he did play.
The problem is that Smith-Rowe has always suffered from intermittent injury problems, and even out on loan at Sheffield before breaking into the Arsenal team he had to have his playing time carefully managed.
His injury problems have continued into this season and also with Martinelli and Odegaard excelling on the field, he has only managed 3 substitute appearances, so even when fit he will still find it hard to get a starting spot.
This culmination of circumstances is going to make it very hard for him to break into Gareth Southgate’s England squad, and it has now become worse as ESR broke down after the Man United game. Arteta Mikel told Arsenal Media: “He felt discomfort in an area that [he’s been dealing with] now for a few weeks,”
“He wasn’t comfortable after the game and he hasn’t trained in the last few days, so he’s out of the squad.”
I’m not surprised that Smith-Rowe is becoming despondent, as it doesn’t look like he will be getting much game time ahead of the World Cup.
The ex-Tottenham defender Alan Hutton when speaking to Football Insider, gave his view on Smith-Rowe: “With the players that are coming in, I don’t think he’s really had the game time that he was after. You can see just in his demeanour, he looks a little bit down, he’s not as happy as he was last season.
“Getting an injury at this point in time is not ideal, especially if you’re not a main player within that team. So it’s really about him recovering from this and getting back to where he was. We know he’s a great player but you have to show the manager that you can do it on a consistent basis.”
The good thing is that ESR is only 22, so he could still have another couple of World Cups in his future, but it certainly doesn’t look like he will going to Qatar. Hopefully a long rest will give him time to recover and he may still have a big impact on Arsenal’s season…