Emile Smith-Rowe was amongst Arsenal’s players that stole the show in Thursday’s 4-0 win over Slavia Prague in the Uefa Europa League quarter-final second-leg tie at Sinobo Stadium.
The 20-year-old attacking midfielder, who missed Arsenal’s 3-0 win over relegation-threatened Sheffield United last weekend, made impressive return to action on Thursday evening by set up Arsenal’s first goal against Czech champions with a cheeky nutmeg.
After having a goal ruled out for offside in the game’s early stages, the Gunners academy product wasted no time in helping his side’s get on the score sheet.
The 20-year-old, who made breakthrough into first-team in Arsenal’s 3-1 win over Chelsea on Boxing Day, showed magnificent close control in the box, as well as outstanding composure, to find Nicolas Pepe unmarked with a cheeky nutmeg.
It would have been rude if Pepe had spurned the chance and the Ivory Coast winger happily tucked home the opening goal.
Emile Smith Rowe does a lot of great stuff in possession, but it’s his actions prior to receiving the ball that are especially impressive.— Top Bins Talk (@TopBinsTalk) April 15, 2021
He played a key part in Arsenal’s first three goals tonight. pic.twitter.com/jcddIq0Zc5
The Hale End academy product has also does a lot of great stuff in possession and he played a key role in Arsenal’s first three goals against the Czech champions last night.
Graphic: The @WhoScored Europa League Team of the Week, featuring five Arsenal players – Granit Xhaka, Dani Ceballos, Emile Smith Rowe, Nicolas Pepe & Alexandre Lacazette. #afc pic.twitter.com/PX1FNhhlAK— afcstuff (@afcstuff) April 16, 2021
Meanwhile, Mikel Arteta has labelled both Saka and Smith-Rowe as ‘joy to watch’ after duo exciting attackers inspired the Gunners to reach the Europa League semi-finals for the third time in four years.
‘For me it is a joy to watch them play, to watch them every day in training,’ Arteta said when asked about the performances of Saka and Smith Rowe.
‘How they behave, the passion and the commitment they have for the club. And then how much they like to play football.
‘You have to let them express themselves, and give them certain frameworks to work in and some ideas on how they can exploit their qualities. Then it is up to them and I thought both of them were really good today.
‘Credit to (all) the players, for how they approached the game and how brave they were in their approach. We were brave, we were efficient, we put them under a lot of pressure. And in the final third we were really clinical. We know how important the competition is.’