ISAAN KHAN: Emile Smith Rowe added attacking flair, offers a different option to Kai Havertz and will hope a rare audition in Arsenal’s win against Nottingham Forest can reboot career

  • Emile Smith Rowe remains a huge favourite among Arsenal supporters 
  • His link-up play and positive passing shone against Nottingham Forest
  • Richest club in the world, but can’t spend any money… what on earth is going on at Newcastle? Listen to the It’s All Kicking Off Transfer Week podcast 

It only takes open ears at the Emirates when Emile Smith Rowe comes off the bench to see his stature among the Arsenal faithful.

Those scant appearances here and there, having only played 25 minutes-plus once in the league this season, are often incidental. 

But not to the supporters, roaring louder than per for their man who has plied his way at the north London club since the age of 10.

The setbacks in a young career which has both soared and stagnated in recent years made on Tuesday night against Nottingham Forest a rare audition — only his second league start since May 2022.

In fact, each of his last three league starts have been in different calendar years — against Newcastle in May 2022, Sheffield United in October 2023 and now Forest in January 2024. 

Emile Smith Rowe will hope he has done enough to reboot his Arsenal career

The attacking flair he brought to the table offers a point of difference for the Englishman

The attacking flair he brought to the table offers a point of difference for the Englishman 

Havertz came off the bench against Nottingham Forest

Smith Rowe did well considering his lack of recent opportunities

Smith Rowe (right) did well considering his lack of recent opportunities and offers a point of difference to Kai Havertz (left), who came off the bench

The very demonstration of stagnation, of course not helped by a knee injury in this campaign.

It just had to work this time. Especially in light of the interest from Chelsea over the summer, and then West Ham in this transfer window.

At the City Ground the 23-year-old, to his credit, was only interested in one direction — forward. 

It can be hard to hit the ground running when lacking game time. Even the best struggle so. Yet, at times, you could see why much is expected of him.

On the ball his instinct was to pass into attacking pockets, not the safe option towards his own backline. There was also an air of composure dribbling at defenders.

He rode a Forest tackle on 30 minutes before curling over the bar. He played Gabriel Jesus through before half-time, who should have shot on goal but instead passed back to Smith Rowe.

The attacking midfielder will hope his display can lead to a run of matches in the side

The attacking midfielder will hope his display can lead to a run of matches in the side

The midfielder also set up Bukayo Saka who drilled the ball wide.

Smith Rowe’s link-up play with Oleksandr Zinchenko on the left flank was a further promising sign. That fluidity added an extra attacking flair differing from Kai Havertz in that same position.

Smith Rowe departed on 71 minutes for Havertz to round off a fair display his manager Mikel Arteta will have taken notice of.

But crucially, one the midfielder will hope is to reboot both his season and Arsenal career.

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