Arsenal youngster Emile Smith Rowe has insisted that the Gunners are heading in the right direction despite their current poor league performance, while he was also full of praise for manager Mikel Arteta.
The 20-year-old originally made his debut for the club back in September 2018, before spending time out on-loan at RB Leipzig and Huddersfield over the next 18 months, before returning to the Emirates in the summer.
After featuring primarily in the Carabao Cup and Europa League in the early months of the season, a run of seven Premier League games without a win opened up the opportunity for a first league start of the campaign for the youngster, the Englishman playing a crucial role in the 3-1 win over Chelsea on Boxing Day.
Since then, the affectionately named ‘Croydon De Bruyne’ has been a mainstay in the Arsenal starting XI, netting two goals and recording six assists in all competitions so far this term.
While his introduction alongside the likes of Bukayo Saka has given Arteta’s side a noticeable lift since the turn of the year, the north London club remain hugely inconsistent and are currently in tenth – ten points behind Thomas Tuchel’s side in fourth.
Although they do have the chance of securing Champions League football via the Europa League, it will not hide what has been a disappointing league campaign thus far under the Spaniard.
According to Smith Rowe, however, everything looks in place to kick on in the future, while he praised the ‘amazing’ tactics of Mikel Arteta.
“We’re definitely going in the right direction. With the team we’ve got, I feel like we’re destined for great things,” he told the Mail. “Honestly, I don’t think people realise how good Bukayo Saka is, for example. He’s one of the best players I’ve ever played with.
— Emile Smith Rowe (@emilesmithrowe) March 14, 2021
“The manager’s tactics are amazing, too. It’s the little details. He’ll tell us how certain moments will go down, how the opposition will react to certain movements we make, and it’ll happen, exactly as he said it. When you see little things like that work, it makes you realise how experienced he is, and how much of a top manager he really is.”
The arrival of Martin Odegaard on-loan from Real Madrid has seen the England U21 international at times deployed out on the left-wing, although he admitted he is ‘happy to play anywhere’ and spoke of his growing connection with left-back Kieran Tierney.
“I see myself as a No 10, on the inside,” he said. “But at the same time, because of the way we play at Arsenal, if I am on the wing then the manager is telling me to drift inside and be natural like a No 10 anyway. I’m happy to play anywhere, you know? I’m an Arsenal fan. I’ll play wherever I’m needed and it’s good to be versatile.
“It’s a habit for me to come inside if I’m on the left wing. That’s also good for KT because he can then get high and wide. We tried to get the ball down there as much as we could against Tottenham. Me and KT have such a good bond. We worked on it in training and were both buzzing after the game. KT is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet but at the same time, he’s such a warrior. He’s a player who’s got everyone’s back and always wants to win.”
The versatile midfielder’s talent and style of play has led to comparisons to current Manchester City star Kevin De Bruyne among teammates and supporters.
“I hear it at the training ground every day. There’s always one player that’s shouting it to me. Sometimes it’s ‘Kevin’. Sometimes it’s ‘Croydon De Bruyne’. I’m taking anything at the moment, to be fair. When you get compared to a player like that, what can I say?”
Arsenal face West Ham in the Premier League on Sunday.