Does Gareth Southgate watch the Premier League? by Mohamed Rafi
The International break is round the corner, and the much awaited England National Team squad sheet for the upcoming World Cup Qualifiers was released today. Bukayo Saka, who seems to love wearing the Three Lions badge, was no surprise for Arsenal fans to see being named. Along with him, Aaron Ramsdale, owing to his excellent and to many, surprising start to the season behind the Arsenal defence has also been included in the squad.
To the surprise of many, including rival fans, however, was the omission of Emile Smith Rowe. The 21-year-old has arguably been the most in-form English forward in the Premier League this season, not just contributing with his pace and dribbling like he always does, but also through his decisiveness in the final third. He has had excellent outings against the likes of Tottenham, Villa and Leicester, while also directly contributing to more goals in the league (3 Goals 2 Assists) than the likes of stars like Jack Grealish, Harry Kane and Phil Foden.
Another name whose exclusion raised a few eyebrows was that of Benjamin White. The young Centre Back has had a solid start to the season, despite a lot of unfair criticism after the season opener against Brentford and has pretty much not put a foot wrong ever since. One could argue that unlike in the case of Emile Smith Rowe, who has reputed players ahead of him in the pecking order, Ben White’s competition for places is against an out of form Tyrone Mings of Aston Villa, who have the 3rd worst defensive record in the league so far and Conor Coady, who has been just about decent in the games gone by. Ben White’s technical security and elegance on the ball would only help in England’s build-up play, which has been criticized at times for being overly reliant on wide players.
This article may come off as biased to some, but I do genuinely believe that the Arsenal players I have mentioned have a good shout to be in the squad. Many of us surely didn’t expect Ben White and Emile Smith Rowe to be ignored after the Sky cameramen showed Gareth Southgate watching Arsenal cruise past Aston Villa at the Emirates from the stands. If inexperience is the excuse for Gareth Southgate, it shouldn’t be so. Afterall, the upcoming games are Albania and San Marino, who with all due respect, can be taken care of by a reserve team with no qualms whatsoever.
The one (and possibly only) positive to take from this from an Arsenal perspective is that these players, who are proving to be vital to this run of form, will get some valuable rest over the break and not risk themselves being injured before some very difficult fixtures when Premier League action resumes.