Q&A with highly-rated Arsenal prospect Emile Smith-Rowe

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has a history of giving opportunities to his academy players, and this year has been no different. In fact, the Frenchman has handed first team debuts to seven youngsters so far during the 2017/18 campaign. Teenage sensations such as Reiss Nelson, Eddie Nketiah, Joe Willock, and Ben Sheaf were all a part of this so called ‘Magnificent Seven.’

Perhaps the next player in line for a first team appearance is 17-year-old prospect Emile Smith Rowe. While not quite a household name for most Arsenal fans just yet, Smith Rowe is certainly making a name for himself in the club’s youth ranks. Debuting with the U23s last season at the age of just 16, the versatile attacking midfielder/winger has quickly progressed through Arsenal’s academy. During the 2016/17 campaign, Smith Rowe finished with six goals in 14 appearances with the U18s.

Fast forward to the current campaign, and Smith Rowe has continued his upward swing in development. Mostly deployed out on the flank, the pacy playmaker has split his time between the U18s and U23s. He managed to net a hat trick with the younger group back in August, and then went on to score an unbelievable bending strike with the U23s just last week. To go along with his goals, Smith Rowe can also set up his teammates. The teen was awarded Man of the Match during an U23s match against Bayern Munich in January, following a goal and two assists on the day.

With opportunities aplenty, Smith Rowe is focused and ready for the next step of his development.

 

Has it surprised you how quickly you have progressed to the U18s and U23s?

Yes, it’s definitely surprised me that I’ve been given the opportunity to play in the U23s and of course getting game time in the U18s has obviously boosted my confidence.

Who do you get along with the most in the squad?

I get along with all the boys, and as a group we all get along, but I’d say a couple of close teammates are Zech Medley, Dominic Thompson and Tobi Omole.

You’ve played on the wing, as well as more centrally this season. What’s your favored position?

Yes, I’ve been played in quite a lot of different positions this season. I enjoy playing on the wing and in midfield. I think the main thing I enjoy is being on the pitch. So I’ll try my best for the team wherever I get told to play.

Who do you look up to in the first team?

In the first team I definitely look up to the likes of Jack Wilshere, Mesut Özil, and obviously now (Henrikh) Mkhitaryan has signed. He’s always been someone I’ve admired.

Is there extra motivation seeing young players like Eddie Nketiah, Joe Willock, and Reiss Nelson progress all the way to the first team?

Yes, there’s definitely extra motivation to get into the first team, but I’m happy for the boys who have been getting their chances.

By now, quite a few Arsenal fans have seen that goal against Sunderland with the U23s last weekend. What are your thoughts on the goal?

(Laughing) yes, I’d have to say the wind helped me a lot! I did try to aim for the far corner and luckily it went in, and the camera angle made it look even better.

What are your 2018 goals with the club?

My goals for the rest of 2018 is to establish myself as a regular starter for the U23s, carry on getting opportunities to train with the first team and hopefully I get the chance to be involved in a first team squad. But at the moment I’m just trying to focus as much as I can and do my best for the U18s and U23s.

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