While it’s been a brilliant season for the Gunners so far, who currently lead the Premier League despite their loss this weekend, it’s been a frustrating one for their No 10 on a personal basis.
Smith Rowe has struggled for fitness throughout the majority of the campaign, and after missing four months with a groin injury, he returned briefly to the team only to face another setback.
Indeed, he picked up a thigh injury in training which forced him to miss the fourth-round FA Cup tie at Manchester City and didn’t return in time for the league trip to Goodison Park.
While speaking about this latest update on YouTube prior to their trip to Goodison Park, Watts explained how certain fans hadn’t taken to the news too well as he defended the young midfielder.
The journalist said: “I’ve seen a lot of criticism, almost, for him on social media today [Friday], in the replies to my tweet saying that Mikel’s ruled him out.
“A lot of people saying, ‘sell him, he’s never fit’. It’s just ridiculous.
“I think you’ve just got to be a little bit patient with Emile. He’s been out for four months – anyone who comes out for four months can come back and they can have a knock, because suddenly you’re putting your body through such a strain that it hasn’t been through before because you’ve been in rehabilitation.
“It just happens time and time again with players who have been out with long-term injuries; they come back and they pick up little niggles.
Will Emile Smith Rowe play a key part in Arsenal’s season?
As a result of all these injuries, Smith Rowe has played just five times in the Premier League so far this term – totalling a measly 47 minutes of action. A further 15 minutes in the FA Cup shows just how little he’s played.
For that reason, he has yet to score or register an assist, and this will be a source of frustration to Arteta, who was able to rely upon him for key contributions in the previous campaign, when the 22-year-old scored 10 times in the league.
With that in mind, however, when fit, Smith Rowe is an outstanding talent, so any talk of trying to sell him just because of a bit of bad luck with recent injuries seems pretty unwise.
In fairness, the midfielder has suffered from fitness issues throughout his career, frequently picking up small niggles and other more serious injuries. But he is still only in his early 20s and has plenty of time to overcome these setbacks.
The club ought to back him, as should the fans.
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