Mikel Arteta has been handed a potential setback ahead of Arsenal’s return to league action this weekend…
Gunners star Emile Smith Rowe has returned to the club early this week, withdrawing from England U21 duty, after feeling unwell, according to the Evening Standard’s Jack Rosser.
Young Three Lions head coach Lee Carsley also spoke about the 20-year-old’s situation, and said:
“It’s not Covid related. He was just feeling unwell so we decided to send him back to Arsenal. He didn’t feel 100 per cent so the best thing to do for Emile was to send him back.”
Arteta has seen several of his first-team players ruled out through injury and illness since the 2021/22 season got underway, so this could be another blow in their attempts to get back on track.
Indeed, the Gunners sit rock-bottom of the Premier League after three matches, having lost every single one of them without finding the net once, as well as leaking a whopping nine goals – more than newly promoted Brentford and 18 other teams.
They face Norwich City, the side directly above them in the standings on Saturday, and will need a victory to kickstart their season. It really is a crunch match at this early stage as another defeat could leave Arteta and co under even more pressure.
Not having Smith Rowe available would be a devastating setback as his versatility in being able to play wide and through the middle has been crucial for Arsenal, especially as he’s one of the more creative options in the side.
He currently ranks as their third-best player on the year so far and is only behind Nicolas Pepe for dribbles per game (2.5). Last season, he topped the charts for key passes per game, averaging 1.4 attempts every league match, per WhoScored.
The 21-year-old’s form saw the Gunners’ hierarchy hand him a new contract and shirt number, taking the famed no.10 from the departed Mesut Ozil, which only goes to show the sort of faith those around the club have in him.
If Arsenal are to put up a good showing against the Canaries, they’ll need Smith Rowe available, so if he does not recover in time, it’ll be one killer blow to the under-fire Arteta – that’s for sure.
The Spaniard will surely be very worried now.