Arsenal legend Lauren has warned Mikel Arteta about becoming reliant on Emile Smith Rowe and Bakuyo Saka. Both players have sparkled for the Gunners in recent weeks, helping them climb up the Premier League table. But the 2004 Invincibles star believes it would be wrong to become too dependent on the pair given their young ages.
Arsenal have seen Smith-Rowe step up, filling the void left behind by Mesut Ozil’s snub.
And Saka has done well of late, too, recently scoring in the Gunners’ comfortable 3-0 win over Newcastle.
Lauren has now been quizzed on the pair and the former Arsenal star believes they should both be eased into action, rather than becoming key men straight away.
When asked by GentingBet if Arsenal needed a creative midfielder, he said: “That is a question for Edu and Arteta!
“Arsenal need to give him time to develop.
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“When youngsters pop up in the first team, they need people around them to help them improve.
“Arsenal can’t put all the responsibility on Emile Rowe Smith or Saka because their level might drop over the season – they have just started and they are too young to have all the responsibility.
“They need top players around them to reach their potential.”
Lauren also expressed a belief that Arsenal’s youngsters had been the shining light amid their difficult season so far.
“The young lads in the squad have impressed me most this season,” he continued.
“It is great to see players from the academy making a difference – they know the club as they’ve been at the club since they were kids so it is great to see them rise up and play in the first team.
“Saka has been excellent. I’ve been really impressed with Emile Smith Rowe.
“Against Newcastle, he was so intelligent with the way that he was receiving the ball.
“Some youngsters want to receive the ball near the centre backs, others want to come to pick it up from their defensive midfielders and go into areas where they aren’t needed.
“But he was clever to identify when to receive the ball, how to shape his body, sometimes play from the left, sometimes play from the right or from the middle – he knew where to find the space so he could damage the opponent with a final pass.
“That shows the intelligence of the player. He needs to keep developing and not think he has finished developing. He needs to show those level of performances consistently.”
One player who has disappointed for Arsenal this season is Nicolas Pepe, who continues to toil following his £72million move to the club last season.
And Lauren, when quizzed on the Ivory Coast international, said: “Arsenal need a full squad and with Pepe, I believe that there are some games where he will be better suited to implement his style of play.
“When you need quick transitions, you will need a player like Pepe.
“His style of play is quicker, more attacking and taking on players so when Arsenal need to transition, Pepe is an option.
“When you play in that kind of way, you need quick players and I believe that from now on to the end of the season, there will be some games that they cannot implement the same game plan by suffocating the opponent in their half, they will need to adapt to transition from the back and for that, they will need Pepe.
“There is still a reason to keep Pepe at the club.
“The stronger squad Arsenal have the less problems you get until the end of the season because they need to balance the team and prepare for injuries.”
The former Arsenal star also hailed Arteta for turning things around.
“Mikel Arteta is the right man to get Arsenal to where they want to be,” he said.
“He is the same manager who won the FA Cup and the Community Shield against Liverpool and still has the quality to lead the team.”