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'Smith Rowe is top drawer' - Wright praises Arsenal starlet for inspiring Newcastle victory

10-Jan-2021, 08:22 pm

Emile Smith Rowe, Arsenal 2020-21

Emile Smith Rowe is "top drawer", according to Ian Wright, who praised the Arsenal starlet for inspiring the team's victory over Newcastle on Saturday.

Arsenal needed extra-time to overcome a determined Newcastle outfit though, with goals from substitutes Smith Rowe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang sealing a 2-0 win.

The Gunners struggled for inspiration in the final third until Smith Rowe’s introduction early in the second half, with the 20-year-old adding a much-needed creative spark.

The English midfielder’s night looked like being cut short when he was shown a red card for a mistimed tackle on Sean Longstaff in the dying moments of normal time, but the referee overturned his initial decision after consulting VAR.

Smith Rowe responded by producing a stunning finish to open the scoring in the 109th minute, and also played a key role in the build-up to Aubameyang’s strike.

Wright was hugely impressed by the youngster’s latest performance, and credited him for making thedifference in a tight game which required someone to pull something special out of the hat.

"He's Smith Rowe’s quality. Top drawer. He is a real player. Absolutely delighted for him,” the Arsenal legend told BBC Sport.

“It's what he deserved. In the first half we weren't getting enough midfield players joining and in the box and he's someone who does that naturally in his game.

"He's done well there. You want a calm, composed strike on target and he's done that.

"He's literally one of the only players we have in the squad who plays on the half-turn in there.

"He comes into that area of the pitch, we had Granit Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny and they're deep, they need someone in the middle of the pitch to lay it into who can link with the midfield and the forwards.

"He's the kind of person that wants the ball in there to progress it forward. That's what we didn't do in the first half and in the previous games to the ones we've won."

Wright added on the Gunners’ overall display and Mikel Arteta being rewarded for his faith in the club’s youth: "In the end, Arteta had to bring on his top guys because first half the guys he brought in to step up and do a job, they didn't do it.

"That was the opportunity for Newcastle to put a bit more pressure on Arsenal and maybe nick something and then the pressure would've been on.

"They didn't have the quality to do it. They defended very well but Arsenal's quality and the tiredness of Newcastle showed.

"I'm pleased forArteta because he had to find a way.

"We brought the young guys in with their enthusiasm and energy and Smith Rowe's quality in that area of the field where we haven't got too many players that do what he does.

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