Ian Wright has told Premier League Productions that he thinks Emile Smith-Rowe offers a quality to Arsenal and Mikel Arteta that Mesut Ozil failed to do during his time at The Emirates – which is about to come to an end.
Ozil, 32, has made no secret that he is about to join Turkish side Fenerbahce – the club he supported as a boy. Arsenal’s number 10 has posted numerous hints on Instagram, even confirming he had flown to the SuperLig side.
Smith-Rowe, meanwhile, has replaced the lack of a number 10 with some stunning displays since being given the chance in the Premier League. He has laid on three assists in five Premier League games, and scored in the FA Cup.
Arsenal legend Wright identified what Smith-Rowe offers that is different to the Fenerbahce-bound Ozil, claiming the Hale End academy product gives the Gunners more pace and energy than Ozil did in the 10 role.
“He realises this is where I’m meant to be now,” Wright said. “I’m ready and the space is available for him. He has taken the chance. Him and Saka are saving Arteta. He’s taking a massive chance on Smith-Rowe.
“But he has repaid him. He’s got to add goals. In the side apart from Ozil there aren’t many players who can play in the hole like he does, on the half-turn with a lot more energy and pace about him than Ozil. He is all over the place.”
TBR’s view – Arteta has finally stumbled on the right formula
It took some time for the Spanish boss to be convinced to drop the senior players in Nicolas Pepe, Willian and even Ozil before eventually entrusting the younger players – but boy, are they repaying him.
Saka scored again on Monday night, with Smith-Rowe laying on an assist. Since Smith-Rowe was inserted into the starting line-up, Arsenal have picked up 13 points from a possible 15 and he has been crucial to that run of form.
The exit of Ozil will no longer hurt Arsenal fans, and that is thanks to Smith-Rowe.