Has Smith Rowe altered Arsenal’s transfer plans?

Martin Macdonald
Martin Macdonald
  • Updated: 19 May 2021 15:43 BST
  • 2 min read
Has Smith Rowe altered Arsenal’s transfer plans?

Arsenal are currently enjoying their best period of the season in 2020/21, and part of the reason for that is the form of 20-year-old Emile Smith Rowe.

Overall, the Gunners have endured a torrid campaign, winning just seven out of their opening 17 matches to currently position themselves 11th in the Premier League table.

Prior to the match against Chelsea on Boxing Day, Arsenal failed to win any of their previous league seven matches in a run which included losses against Aston Villa, Wolves, Tottenham, Burnley, and Everton.

Ahead of the crunch London derby, manager Mikel Arteta opted to hand a start to Smith Rowe, with him being deployed behind the striker in the number 10 role in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

What followed was probably Arsenal’s best performance of the campaign as they superbly defeated Chelsea 3-1, despite Frank Lampard’s side going into the game as solid favourites.

Arteta’s side have subsequently gone on to win another two in a row against Brighton and then versus West Brom, and that has coincided with Smith Rowe starting every game.

The young Englishman played 65 minutes against Chelsea, 89 against Brighton, and 77 against West Brom, and recorded two assists over those three games.

Smith Rowe, along with fellow youngster Bukayo Saka, has been credited with bringing a youthful exuberance to the Arsenal forward line which had been sorely missing in the first half of the seasons, with veterans Willian, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and Alexandre Lacazette all misfiring.

Not only has Smith Row impressed individually, but he has helped catalyse a resurgence in form, crucially, for those around him, including Aubameyang and Lacazette.

Arsenal’s transfer plans

FootballTransfers previously reported that Arteta’s wish for the January transfer window was a right-sided central defender to play alongside summer signing Gabriel in a four-man defence.

Before this run of three matches in a row, Arsenal had scored just 12 goals in the league, with that number now at 20 following their spurt of eight scored in three.

Forty per cent of their league goals have came in the last three matches, which highlights just how poor they were going forward previously.

It was in the barren period when the Gunners started being linked with creative players for January, most notably Isco.

The Spaniard has been deemed surplus to requirements by Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid, having started just three times in La Liga in 2020/21.

Even though Mesut Ozil remains on Arsenal’s books, Isco was reportedly being targeted to fill the creative void in the central area behind the striker.

Now, though, Arsenal’s interest in Isco has apparently cooled due to Smith Rowe’s emergence, with the 20-year-old now one of the first names on the team sheet for Arteta.

Isco remains a target for Everton, however.

Another option remains Norwich’s Emi Buendia, who could be available for £30m. But, again, the presence of Smith Rowe may now see Arteta revert back to his original plan of focusing on a new centre-back.