Neville says Smith-Rowe could have played in Wenger’s greatest sides

Gary Neville praised Emile Smith-Rowe’s recent performances for the Gunners and said the 20-year-old could have played in legendary former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger’s greatest sides, according to Sky Sports.

Smith-Rowe put in an impressive performance in Arsenal’s 3-0 win against Newcastle United in the Premier League on Monday. He created the North London side’s second goal which was scored by fellow Arsenal academy graduate Bukayo Saka.

Ever since Smith-Rowe was given a regular run of games in the Premier League, Arsenal’s form has improved significantly and they have moved into the top half of the league table.

The 20-year-old has provided three assists in five Premier League games this season. His first league game of the season was the 3-1 victory over Chelsea at the Emirates which was the start of a five game unbeaten. 

Arsenal have lacked a creative spark for a majority of the 2020/21 campaign which has seen them struggle to find the back of the net. Mesut Ozil, who is on the verge of signing for Fenerbahce, was left out of the club’s Premier League and Europa League squads this season which made Smith-Rowe the only player capable of playing in the hole for the Gunners. Speaking about his recent performances, Neville said:

“You watch Smith Rowe play, you watch a lot of young players play, particularly in the front areas, they’re frantic. Their choices are a little bit erratic, they don’t normally get it right.”

“He doesn’t run with the ball, he glides with it, travels with it, and he’s always at a point where you feel like he can release it. The real best players travel with the ball, but are always in a position where they can release it at the right moment.”

“A lot of young players, they run with it, then they have to stop, look up, and the moment’s gone. He’s not, he’s connected, he’s switched on, he’s clever. Arsene Wenger had brilliant players who travelled with the ball, like Robert Pires and others who travelled with the ball brilliantly and were so clever. He could have played in those teams.”

“He’s only played six games. Six games? It’s unbelievable he looks so experienced, and I don’t know why he looks so experienced. Maybe it’s those loan moves, being at Huddersfield, going away from home, taking that chance to learn and build your resilience and development. Arsenal fans have got a group of young players they can hang their hat on, and build around.”

Fellow Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher was also effusive in his praise for the Arsenal academy graduate. He said:

“I just love it for the second goal – he was almost Jack Grealish like with the ball stuck to his toe. He hasn’t just got his head down, gone down the left and pulled it back, and at times you see players put it into a dangerous area and hope one of their midfield players is coming onto it, that’s not a problem.”

“But that’s what I love – you feel like he’s always in control. He’s trying to beat a man, he beats him, but he gets the composure right too, and the night belonged to Emile Smith Rowe – I thought he was outstanding.”

“He looks like someone who actually plays the right pass for the team at that time. People might watch it and not think it’s very spectacular, but when you play with players like that, who always make the right decision, it’s not about looking good, it’s about helping your team-mate, giving him the ball.”

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