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Smith Rowe has been in red-hot form for the Gunners
Nigel Winterburn believes Emile Smith Rowe’s top performances have made him undroppable, and suggested Mikel Arteta may have to alter his transfer plans based on the youngster’s emergence.
The Gunners endured their worst start to a season in 46 years after accruing just 14 points from their first 14 Premier League games.
However, the introduction of the likes of Smith Rowe and Gabriel Martinelli in recent weeks has injected life into Arteta’s side and helped set them on a six-match unbeaten run across all competitions.
20-year-old Smith Rowe has three assists from his last six league appearances, linking up with the likes of Bukayo Saka and Alexandre Lacazette to devastating effect.
And Arsenal legend Winterburn thinks the Gunners academy product’s performances have been at such a high level that Arteta can’t afford to leave him out of his starting XI.
‘His performances are getting stronger and stronger,’ Winterburn told Bookmakers.co.uk. ‘He’s a player who offers something slightly different to what Arsenal already have in the team at the moment.
‘So I’m just hoping that his confidence is going to keep building and building.
‘Obviously, he’s going to have little dips on the way but if he can keep that level of performance going then eventually that will essentially say to the manager ‘leave me out if you dare’. ‘And that’s exactly what he’s done. He has to be selected at the moment, he cannot be left out. ‘All you can do as a player is put the performances in and give the manager no choice. That’s what Saka has done and that’s what Rowe is now doing.’
The Gunners are keen on improving their options in midfield with Real Madrid’s Martin Odegaard a player linked with a January move to the Emirates in recent days.
However, Winterburn feels Smith Rowe’s excellent displays may convince Arteta to shelve his plans to bring in a creative midfielder until the summer.
‘I would suggest that it’s an area Arsenal are looking at in the transfer market, whether it be now or for next season,’ he added.
‘Mikel Arteta might want to wait until he gets a few more faces out of the club before addressing it, but Emile Smith Rowe might be making him think that maybe he can hold off until the summer because this young man is progressing.
‘If he is to continue to make strides then yes, in the short-term at least, let him fill the role and see where he is at the end of the season and Arteta can reassess his squad.’