It is disrespectful to compare Smith-Rowe with Pires after just 7 games

Let’s Be Patient With Smith–Rowe by Dan Smith

As someone who coached his international team (and failed), you would think Gary Neville would know the dangers of putting too much pressure on a youngster.

Yet that’s what he did on Sky Sports, saying Emile Smith-Rowe could have played in Arsene Wenger’s title winning sides, and comparing him to Robert Pires.

The 20-year-old has made 7 League appearances as a Gunner in two years. He’s yet to score and has three assists.

Since Xmas, he has brought creativity to our play (which wasn’t hard to do) and looked impressive. What he needs now is time and patience to develop his talent.

There are so many examples of youngsters rewarded for doing the bare minimum, who failed to handle so much fame and attention.

As part of Man United’s famed 93 youth team, Neville should know as much as any ex-pro about protecting those who are promoted from the academy. Outside of David Beckham, Sir Alex Ferguson made it a priority to keep the likes of Scholes, Giggs and the Neville brothers away from interviews, wrong agents, etc.

Mike Arteta’s task now is to ensure that Smith-Rowe doesn’t listen to opinions from pundits and let it go to his head. It’s hard enough to handle the pressure of being Ozil’s replacement without being compared to one of the greatest players in our history.

It’s becoming a tradition at Arsenal to over-rate a youngster without them achieving anything.
Ian Wright was guilty of that in his own analysis or our Newcastle win, suggesting senior players have been shown up by those less experienced.


We have made the worst start to a campaign in the Prem era. Before that we finished in our worst League position in 25 years, so let’s not make out anyone has broken through like a teenage Owen, Rooney or Fabregas.

Out of the batch of kids given a chance in the last few years only Saka has shown any consistency.

Playing well against West Bromwich, Brighton and Newcastle (three of the worst sides in the division) is way too early to judge Smith Rowe.

Joe Willock and Reiss Nelson have had numerous opportunities to prove they belong at this level.

In the League, all Eddie Nketiah does is come off the bench, run into a defender and fall over. You could count on one hand how many great games Maitland Niles has had in 3 years.

I say it all the time. It is only when we realise the problems can we find solutions. We have to accept how far we have fallen.

I think there is a section of our fanbase so desperate they try to convince themselves players are better than they are.

LONDON, ENGLAND – JANUARY 09: Emile Smith Rowe of Arsenal celebrates with teammates (L-R) Bukayo Saka, Cedric Soares and Alexandre Lacazette after scoring their sides first goal during the FA Cup Third Round match between Arsenal and Newcastle United at Emirates Stadium on January 09. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Smith Rowe is at an age where there will be inconsistencies. To give him the best chance of fulfilling his potential we need to take away any pressure that is not needed at this time.
It’s also educating a next generation of gooners wrongly. Those not old enough to watch Pires in the flesh should not be misled to think anyone in our current squad are anywhere near that level.

How disrespectful to legends of this club and everything they achieved to think that making a few goals against those near the bottom of the table compares to what Robert Pires achieved. You have to be special to get anywhere near what the class of 2001-06 did. A pundit making those comparisons does zero favours to our players or fans.

This is one of the worst Arsenal squads in my lifetime. Pretending anyone in our current set up is close to a Pires is misleading.

Being creative in a team that is 10th in the League is like being a big fish in a small pond in comparison to the teams Pires represented.

Smith Rowe could turn out to be great but let’s just take little steps first. Maybe wait for him to score a League goal first before we compare him to one of the greatest in our history.

Be Kind In The Comments


Tags Gary Neville Pires Smith-Rowe


  1. Pires one of my all time favourites ,smith Rowe as along long way to go to be even spoke about in the same breath.
    But he’s heading in the right direction .

  2. Let’s not start this comparing stuff.
    Let the boy develop.
    People start comparing, start hyping up youngsters then when it does not work out they start cussing them out.

  3. Dan always spot on. ERS just played 7 games and he is been compared to RP that’s absolute disrespect. People should let this young man be, stop over hyping him so it doesn’t get into his head.

  4. Shearer compared Rosicky with Pires & he didn’t do so badly. I don’t think it’s being disrespectful to Bobby but more of a weight for Emile to carry. I read he’s going to get himself a nice pay increase soon, so lets see what that does for his overall performances and general self regard.
    I think he’ll be OK.

    1. Agree. Is not the”disrespect” that bothers me, it’s the concern they he’ll start to believe the hype and forget he has to achieve. He seems pretty grounded so not too worried but it does raise the pressure

    2. Rosicky was a favourite of mine.
      Absolutely loved watching him play when fit and firing. But injuries ruined his career.


      Joyous players.

      1. While I was living in Japan, I watched a lot of Bundesliga, so I was over the moon When Rosicky joined Arsenal. Wegner could do no wrong in other words. At Dortmund there was burst of electricity every time Rosicky touched the ball with the crowd sensing that something special was about to happen. Unfortunately we all know what happened at Arsenal. He got injured before he had a chance to settle in, and unfortunately it took years before he returned, slower and somewhat overweight. He was never the same
        With no disrespect to Pires, Rosicky could have been in a class above. It was Arsenal’s loss, again.

        1. Completely agree to it. Rosicky was what we can truly call a gunner. When on ball, it sensed something special everytime . Same can be said about fabregas, wilshere, cazorla, sanchez too. They were unpredictable and that’s what made them so special. Nowdays it seems so that we know what is going to happen in the midfield. Partey and Emile are bringing in that spark back.

    1. Arsenal had better prepare Cottrell to be Xhaka’s understudy, because we’d become too predictable if Xhaka gets injured

      1. No one should study anything from Xhaka becsuse there’s nothing to learn from Xhaka. We are where we are on the log because of this hype issue

        1. Xhaka’s positioning, aerial ability, work rate and forward passes are very good. His stats were one of the highest in the Newcastle game

          He can also pass forward closer to the left touchline, because of his left foot. This passing ability is essential for our main dribbler on the left wing, Tierney

          1. Xhaka is also reckless, very one-footed, not a goal threat, doesn’t offer creativity, doesn’t tackle much, doesn’t intercept passes and is very unreliable under pressure. He is good at passing , but thats one quality ALL midfielders should possess. In the past 3 seasons he’s racked up 10 yellows every PL season.

            His best season was arguably his second. He’s been much better since his dismissal against Burnley but we can do much better than Xhaka. He’s still 28 come summer and has resale value left. And him playing well now can only do good when trying to sell him.

            Do we want to risk him having another tantrum next season?

          2. @McLovin : We could only sell him once we get a better left-footed DM, because he’s currently indispensable as our left pivot

          3. Positioning … you can’t be serious … watch the man he consciously moves in to positions where he can’t receive the ball as he is clearly uncomfortable with controlling a football with players around him forcing the man in position to look for alternatives .., it’s a major reason beyond his lack of speed and creativity that the midfield is hamstrung whenever he is on … forward passing … now you are just getting surreal

  5. He runs with the ball, he moves with the ball, he glides with the ball and he’s always at a point whereby you feel he can release it.

    “The real best players travel with the ball but they are always in the position where they can release it. He’s connected, he’s switched on, he’s clever.

    “[Wenger] had brilliant players, like [Robert] Pires and others that traveled with the ball brilliantly and were so clever and intelligent.

    “He could have played in the old Arsenal teams the way in which he plays.
    So please Dan where exactly did Garry compare Smith to Pieres all he said is he can play in arsene Wenger team.

    1. Thumbs up there LenoHappy!
      And Besides, like Gotanidea pointed out earlier, they do not even play same position.
      This is the first place I honestly have read (or heard) of this so-called comparism.

    2. Just can’t compare indeed. in few years and few trophies. Keep it up kid. And please stop taking it on players. We have quality, top players & youth combined

      Up to coach to play AubaLacaSaka for first time, while it is as obvious and effortless as it sound to realize we have the biggest hit song in Europe attacking 3: Aubalacasaka , let me here sing it along!!!!

      Read people on Xhaka again, hey few weeks back same wanted Rowe out!

  6. After all the hype and years of game time Ozil cannot be compared to DB. No point in comparing ESR to RP though the lad can emulate him and become a legend. Most of today’s greats – were consistent from a tender age of 18 or 19, Mbappe to name one. Let the lad play his game, there will be good games, there will be not so good games, lets cheer the lad as long as he tries. Over here some would gloat that Iwobi would be replaced by Nelson, sad fact that neither Nelson nor Willian do even 1/3rd of what Iwobi did during his AFC days. Let us not over hype the kids until they achieve constancy – like Saka.

      1. LENOHAPPY, And on the contrary , SOME will kid themselves that Xhaka and Elneny are capable players when both clearly are not. Elneny is a willing butseverely limited journeyman not up to playing at Prem level at all. Xhaka is far too slow in thought, movement and in passing, to ever be effective CONSISTENTLY at the level we need, even though he does have the odd good game , almost always against lowly opposition , as against Newcastle.

        But put him up against City, Liverpool etc and he is a plodder, in more senses than one. REALITY AND FULL PERSPECTIVE!

        1. Jon my point is as long as they are arsenal players, we should give them credit when they play well but some no matter how good some players played they will never see anything good to say about them.

          1. I’m surprised you brought up Xhaka and Elneny in this debate, first these are not kids like ESR or Saka or Martenelli. Second I do agree and if you read my comment, there will always be good games and bad games, the decider is that if the player tries or not. If he tries and fails, we need to get behind him and support the lad, if does not then we need to boo him out of our club – and this is what should be done to the likes of Ozil, Willian, Pepe . Xhaka, ELneny, Nelson, Kolasinac, (AMN is joining this list) are not skilled nor workaholics and should never have been at AFC. Then we wonder why we are mid table, it is because of our blind support to useless players (players nor working for the cause, just to collect their wages)

        2. ,@Jon Fox Elneny might be limited as a player but after playing in the Egyptian league he moved to Basel in 2013 then to Arsenal spending 1 season on loan in Turkey that hardly makes him a journeyman wouldn’t you agree?

          1. siamois, The term journeyman does not simply mean someone who has played at many clubs . It means a player who has not made the grade at top level and generally not been first choice , certainly not IF he ever played for a top level club.
            Such is true of Elneny, as we can all see and hence my correct description of him as a journeyman. Limited, as you yourself agree, is what he is!
            Indeed, there are a number of top class players who HAVE played at many clubs but that does not make them a journeyman. It refers to ability , not ease of travel.

    1. Loose Cannon I don’t agree with booing players, though I agree that players not giving there best should not be wearing our jersey and I also believe that there are better ways to show our displeasure than booing players. And I agree with the players you listed with the exception of Xhaka and El neny what they lack in talent they make up for it with hardwork, and I really believe every football club needs players like el neny as back up, no football club has qualities all over the pitch.

  7. Hurray for perspective, so well said DAN!
    It is not merely “disrespectful” to compare ESR to the great that was PIRES, but it is also plain bonkers, stupid and harms the promising youngster that ESR is if , which it well might, it feeds through into fan pressure to be likened to one of our all time great players.

    This constant hype from fans – and I CANNOT HELP NOTICING THAT IT IS NEARLY ALWAYS VERY YOUNG FANS , rarely older, more worldly wise fans, who hype youngsters and go overboard far too soon – is unwise and has the potential to harm our club by heaping unwanted pressure on youngsters to live up to unrealistic comparisons.

    One reason why hype comes from younger fans , rarely older ones, is that we oldies have seen this happen in decades gone by and can see the dangerous parallels. , whereas younger fans have not that experience of how damaging over hyping can be.

    So please stop it youngsters and encourage but do not overhype. OK?

  8. England has a culture of hyping or overrating their own. If Mane or Salah were English, they will be better than Cr7 & Messi combined.

  9. JAX

    Shearer compared Rosicky to Pires and he ended up spending two thirds of his career injured. We compared Diaby to Viera and Diaby ended up permanently at the hospital

    We should calm down but your rant is not necessary.

    1. Havyn, I am astonished that you saw JAX’s post as a “rant” I saw no ranting in his moderate post at all. I do take issue with his thoughts and actually agree with your post. BUT he did in no way “rant” and that accusation is unfair.

    2. My “rant”? I thought it was pretty laid back TBH.😏.I’m assuming that English is not your first language.

      1. JAX WELL SAID! I am a pedant for correct use of langauge for one special reason; that is because I constantly seek the WHOLE truth. Not half truths, distortions, lies and cherry picked stats to falsely support a dodgy case – as politicians do so often- and I dislike and fear hype, esp of our younger players. And in life generally, as it so often misrepresents what is true.
        Your original post was to my mind a mere opinion, to which you and all of us are fully entitled. As we are to challenge its contents too. BUT not by unfairly and untruthfully misrepresenting them.
        End of my own “rant”!

        I need not remind certain others that a full explanation is exactly THAT and not a rant at all.

        1. I actually feel the write up on ESR wasn’t necessary too, the lad knows better and young players of these days are a bit more matured than in the past.
          Mbappe, haaland, rashford, Sancho, fati, jao Felix, etc the kids handled pressure well and even used it as a motivation to maintain their levels and improve rapidly….. This is arsenal u wud always b under pressure..

          Also hyping players has merits as well…saka’s value is skyrocketing daily even ESR too..why?? Cuz we hype every positive moves made by them…soon ESR would get a national team call up too..

          If we hyped willock,nketiah,AMN too, prolly it might help their confidence levels, showing that we appreciate all efforts made

          1. Instooments, I disagree on hype helping players. There is no real evidence to support this false claim. The young players you have chosen to list are all real top class and not a true representationof the average ability of overhyped youngsters .

            Those who are in a postion to elevate the careers of youngsters eg Gareth Southgate, will not be influenced one bit by fan hype. They will soberly assess their merits or demerits and pick or reject them accordingly. Fan hype CAN be – not necessarily IS- harmful.
            BUT IT IS NEVER HELPFUL, NOT EVEN WITH YOUR EXAMPLE OF INFLATED TRANSFER FEES. This is mere conjecture on your part with no evidence to back it up. Unless you can actually provide any such proof?

          2. @ Jon ,I understand your point , buh I feel the impact of hype on players is not all bad ,it depends on the players personality and mentality

            Some would work hard to live up to the hype, thrive and maintain the standard for years becoming stars and integral players in the team,

            Some would see it as a burden and crumble under pressure becoming deadwoods later.

            Several talented Arsenal youth players have grown up soft due to undefined expected standards. Even Walcott said something bout it recently.
            We have been too soft in our great club recently,

            They need to understand that there’s a worldclass standard expected of them…of course they are as talented as other kids worldwide but how they handle hype and pressure makes the difference.

            We need arsenal youth players to be sort after and poached by top clubs in the world not becoming mere squad players shipped off to lower leagues years later…

    3. Not to mention Pires scored like 50 more goals won two more fa cups , two Premiership and got to a CL Final

      1. Well he needs a chance he’s played reasonably well
        Only 7 games maybe he could go on to emulate Mr Pires success.
        Hopefully he will do Arsenal proud

        1. indeed he can play much better . Even Pires played a lot well when given the game time. It is all about getting that time to get settled.

    4. Rosicky was known to be injury prone before joining Arsenal (he wasn’t a youngster and was already well known in Europe), and diabys injuries can be traced back clearly to one specific incident, so I don’t know how Alan Shearer’s words could have made a difference.
      Think I agree with your point, if it is that getting carried away with hyping players can be detrimental, but I don’t agree with your examples.
      Pennant or Bentley would make more sense to me.

    1. Andy Has it never occurred to you that we all learn from the past in almost every single way, football and in all walks of life?

      To not refer to and learn from the past would be a grave error and rob our younger folk of the life skills that we all need, young or old. After all, it is rather more difficult to learn from the future and from things that have not yet happened.
      When the Covid vaccines were developed it was because of past knowledge.
      You are right however in that we can and must look forwards too but not by not “referencing” the past.

      1. “not to refer and learn from the past would be a grave error..”that’s the problem Jon people and society in general do not seem to learn from past mistakes probably the reason history tends to repeat itself!

        1. Indeed Siamois, which is one reason I posted to that effect. Mankind – and I speak generally, not MERELY about football- is in general fairly slow to learn from past lessons. REASSURING TO KNOW THAT YOU THINK LIKEWISE.
          One key exception to that is in medicine and many other forms of science and also in some arts. But politicians seem dismally inept in learning lessons, again, generally speaking.

          I have long thought that those with REAL outstanding intellect and ethics generally avoid going into politics. I think that many who do go into politics, start with ethical principles but get “infected” (sooner or later)with the tribal instincts that so trivialiase and separate MPS from real life. Sorry to digress though!

          Finally, I would use AW as a pefect example of omeone who was and remains a class act as an individual,BUT who became set in his ways and refused to learn fromhis past mistakes.

          I have total regard for him as a man. Even a sort of awe. But I remain clear that he was the wrong person to manage us for many years before he finally left, mainly because he refused to learn from the past. At least in his latter decade here.

  10. What has Smith-Rowe done to get credit of being compared to Pires. It’s an insult to Pires. Pires has played well for years at the right wing. The sooner we admit that our players are below invincible squad, the better. In any position of the current squad, there’s no one better than invincible squad

  11. I don’t think it’s being dispespectful, but more about being ignorant. It’s normal for fans to go overboard when evaluating players and of course the Media add fuel to the fire ,as it is in their best interests to get as much mileage out of any debate as they can.Pires was a great player , and while ESR is very promising he is still serving his apprenticeship.From what I have seen however,he and his pals , Saka and Martinelli could become top notch players .

  12. There is a very English habit of over hyping and putting pressure on young players and then when they don’t fulfill expectations they are crucified. The same thing happens with the national teams.ESR is a very talented youngster but Arsenal supporters need to be realistic, he till needs time to develop his game and decision making. We need another experienced playmaker to add depth and options to the squad .

  13. Pires third greatest ever Gunner after Thierry and Dennis in my opinion.
    Rosicky was also some player but missed a lot with injuries.

  14. more of an english media thing rather than specifically an Arsenal thing. None of the English youngsters should be compared to anyone yet because none of them have really achieved much yet. Even Foden hasn’t been a starter for a title winning side yet like other English Youth has. Essentially, it’s what everyone else is saying. Be excitied, but the comparisons to players with legendary careers is farcical. ESR will have good and bad moments ahead in his career and is still developing. My main hope is that he stays fit!

  15. We can only hope that ESR lives up to any such comparison…of course, it’s ridiculous and frankly a bit disrespectful to do so at this juncture, but if there ever comes a time when this is a plausible comparison, and ESR is at Arsenal when that discussion takes place, I will be over the moon…Pires personified the greatness that Arsenal once was, both by his somewhat unlikely journey and by the incredibly graceful manner in which he plied his trade…simply one of our best!!

  16. All I wanna say is when Smith Rowe and Saka get better than what they are now, in a season or two, we r going to be a problem, by that time Martinelli will be centre forward prolific, Come on Arsenal! #COYG

  17. well comparisons do impact the performance of a lot of players. It is now up to Emile to see how he copes up the pressure. Emile has a certain flair about his passing and honestly he looks to have the Arsenal DNA, that crisp movement and forward runs with the ball gliding with his foot not hobbling. He reminds me a lot about that fluent Arsenal midfield which comprised of players like fabregas, cazorla, rosicky, wilshere. Emile can do a lot if he just continues to do what he is doing now. I see Matiland-Niles as a real box-to-box guy too. Do not know what is the real matter behind the scenes, but apart from that the consistency has been a key reason behind his drop from selection. Balogun is another prospect who will be a huge loss, if he goes.

  18. My question to the writer of this article is this: Would the great Robert Pires feel disrespected if he read the pundit’s comment?
    I think the word ‘disrespectful’ is one of the words that gets thrown around these days unnecessarily without any careful thought.
    Let’s take the great Lionel Messi for example: if I saw a young diminutive left footed player who runs and dribbles with the ball a lot and said: ‘hmmm, this guy reminds me of Messi’ , or ‘he plays like Messi’, would you consider that disrespectful to Messi? Or just that what he’s doing is not new and has been done by one of the greats before? I don’t think it is.
    INFACT, if I say he’s the next Messi, sure it puts pressure and hype on the young player but it’s still not disrespectful to Messi cos it means Messi is great enough to be considered a standard and a ceiling that players can aspire to get to.
    Maybe if I say he’s going to or can be better than Messi, then that could be considered disrespectful, but then again that’s attesting to the potential. Hope this makes sense for my first comment on this site??

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