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So talented: Watch Emile Smith-Rowe brilliant performer in Gunners 3-1 win over Chelsea



Bukayo Saka was named man of the match, while Gabriel Martinelli also grabbed headlines with his performances, but one man who also produced standout performances was playmaker Emile Smith-Rowe.

For much of the season Arsenal’s front line has been isolated in the absence of an advanced creative presence to link the defence and the attack. Making his first Premier League start of the season in his preferred number 10 role, Emile Smith-Rowe provided exactly that.

The 20-year-old operated incredibly high up the pitch with an average position almost alongside that of Alexandre Lacazette. In this area he would receive the ball and feed the Gunners’ impressive wide men in the half spaces, which would, in turn, create freedom for Kieran Tierney and Hector Bellerin in particular to operate down the flanks.

The attacking midfielder showed his quality on the ball as well, ending the day with an assist and the second most key passes of any Arsenal player against one of the best team in the world.

Given the time of year at which it has come and the nature of the Hale End graduate’s performance, it could somewhat cynically be used to argue in favour of a return for German ace Mesut Ozil.

From January 1st Arsenal are allowed to make changes to their squad registration, which would technically allow Mikel Arteta to bring the playmaker in from the cold.

If Mikel Arteta wants to continue with the tactics that worked so effectively against Chelsea, there are few who better to play the number 10 position where Emile Smith-Rowe excelled than Ozil.

Emile Smith-Rowe himself admitted the 32-year-old’s performances in this role are something that he has tried to incorporate into his own game.

‘At Arsenal, I look up to Mesut Ozil a lot, said Smith Rowe.

‘I watch him in training and the movement he has and the little touches he does. For me to train with him every day, I can’t think of anything better.’

But there is one are of his game where Emile Smith-Rowe has already got his idol beat.

His defensive performance against Chelsea last night was arguably as impressive as the quality he provided going forward.

The 20-year-old played a vital role in pressing N’Golo Kante to ensure that the Blues’ playing out from the back was stopped at source. Throughout the game Frank Lampard’s side struggled in getting the ball to their central creative players in Mateo Kovacic and Mason Mount.

Smith-Rowe ended the game having made the Gunners’ second successful pressures (only Granit Xhaka – a primarily defensive minded midfielder – managed more), completed 100% of his tackles, and made one further interception.

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