Arsenal‘s Emile Smith Rowe has admitted he “looks up to” Manchester United playmaker Bruno Fernandes and the “crazy” number of goal contributions he musters, having managed to rival the Portuguese’s creativity in the Premier League recently.
The 20-year-old Croydon-born attacking midfielder was superb again as he supplied his third Premier League assist in his past six matches in the north London club’s 3-0 win over Newcastle on Monday night.
Arsenal academy graduate Smith Rowe found Bukayo Saka for the Gunners’ second goal of the night and was creative throughout, both in finding team-mates with passes and driving forward with the ball.
While speaking post-match to Sky Sports, presenter Dave Jones highlighted that since Smith Rowe has come into the Arsenal line-up he has created 10 chances.
Only United’s Fernandes, six years his senior and with far more first-team experience, has created as many or more than the England youth international in that same time-frame.
Fernandes has 11 goals and seven assists this term for top-of-the-table United and has been a revelation at Old Trafford since joining from Sporting Lisbon a year ago.
And Smith Rowe reacted upon hearing the statistic: “Nah that’s definitely [not bad company to keep]. I look up to him as a player and his stats are crazy!
“The way he plays is really good. That’s obviously a good achievement I guess.”
The attacking midfielder continued: “We all enjoyed it so much [tonight] and I think we are coming together as a team. We are really happy with the win. Can’t be happier with the three points.
“I feel like we are all coming together as a group. We’ve had some meetings off the pitch and we are so much stronger now as a team.
“Everyone is getting fit and we’re all together on the training pitch. I think the whole group is so much stronger and it showed on the pitch.
“I have been a bit unfortunate with injuries and stuff but the manager has given me a chance. I am so grateful and I just hope to repay him. Any opportunity I’m getting I just want to show I am good enough to be in the team.
“He [Arteta] tells me so much to play free, clear my mind and be confident. If I make a mistake he tells me to carry on. I’m so happy to play for a manager like Mikel and to get these opportunities.
“Growing up, I have always tried to play one-touch. If I know what I want to do before the ball arrives, why not play one touch?
“I’ve been abroad and I’ve been in the Championship and it has developed me so much off the pitch. I feel like I have grown and matured into a more confident person and it’s helped me in my journey.”
And on playing with the likes of goalscorer Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli, Smith Rowe added: “It’s great because we have all played together from a young age. Gabi obviously came from abroad.
“To be on the pitch together with all the young boys it’s a dream for us. From a young age we’ve already had that link-up so when we get on the pitch together I think it shows how good we can play together.”
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Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher said of Smith Rowe: “It’s not a criticism of young players, but sometimes they take too long on the ball or make the wrong decision because they’re trying to show everyone what they’ve got.
“He looks like someone who plays the right pass for the team at that time.
“Some people may think it’s nothing spectacular, but when you play with players like that, that’s what really impresses me.”
While Gary Neville reflected: “I think he’s found the way forward, going into the Chelsea game, it was desperate. Before the game, I was expecting them to get a real good going over by Chelsea.
“It was transformative that day. The young kids got brought in, and all of a sudden, they looked like a team.
“I remember saying in the first-half, the Arsenal fans will like this, they’ll like watching the players, they’ll resonate with them, they’ll connect. You watch Emile Smith Rowe play, I agree, you watch a lot of young players play football and they’re frantic. Their choices are usually erratic and they don’t get it right.
“He doesn’t run with the ball, he glides and he moves 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 you feel like they can release it at the right moment.
“He’s connected, he’s switched on, he’s clever. He’s an Arsenal player that I feel like is a big compliment to Arsene Wenger and how he impacted my mind as an opposing player for many years, brilliant players like [Robert] Pires, who travel with the ball so intelligently, he reminds me of.
“He could’ve played in the old Arsenal teams, the way in which he plays.”