EPL

Mikel Arteta ‘happy to have’ Emile Smith Rowe amid West Ham reports

By Sports Desk January 19, 2024

Mikel Arteta insists Emile Smith Rowe is settled at Arsenal amid reported interest from West Ham.

Smith Rowe has endured a frustrating time since he hit 10 goals in the 2021-22 campaign, with groin surgery restricting his role in the club’s unsuccessful title challenge last season.

England international Smith Rowe has also struggled with a knee issue this term, but even when he has been fit the 23-year-old has been reduced to cameo appearances with only one Premier League start among 12 outings in all competitions.

West Ham have reportedly made an approach to sign Smith Rowe on loan but Arteta played down talk the academy graduate could leave this month ahead of Saturday’s visit of Crystal Palace.

Arteta said: “I’m really happy with Emile. He’s in the right trajectory.

“Now, he’s settled, he’s training really well and you know I’m not going to talk about individual situations.

“Emile is Emile. We know he’s got incredible qualities and we’re really happy to have him.

“What he needs now is chances to put all the desire and quality that he has on the pitch. In order to do that we have to give him minutes.”

Chances have been few and far between for Smith Rowe in recent weeks despite Arsenal struggling to match their consistency from the opening months of the season.

An FA Cup defeat to Liverpool on January 7 made it three losses in a row and one victory from their last seven matches, but the players have returned from a warm-weather training camp in Dubai “fully recharged” according to their manager.

“We are recharged, full of energy and super motivated so we want to attack the second half of the season with a lot of ambition and the understanding that the team is capable of big things. They are convinced of that,” Arteta added.

“It was a phenomenal camp. We recharged our batteries and the context of the environment, in the beautiful weather, helps. The togetherness and moments we shared together were great, so yeah we’re fully recharged.”

Goals have been an issue for Arsenal during this poor seven-match run with only five goals scored in that period, but Arteta reiterated they would not move for a striker in the January transfer window.

“No, because I love the players that we have,” he insisted.

Arteta was also coy over Arsenal’s list of absentees, with Oleksandr Zinchenko (foot) and Gabriel Jesus (knee) notable absentees for the defeat to Liverpool before Arsenal’s mid-season break.

“Individually, I am not going to tell you exactly how everyone is,” Arteta explained. “We are touch and go with a few. You will see.”

The Arsenal boss was more forthcoming about the progress of Jurrien Timber, who sustained anterior cruciate ligament damage in August but joined the squad for the training camp.

Arteta revealed: “At the moment he’s still very far from competing. That’s the realistic picture of it.

“Are we hopeful that he could have a realistic impact before the end of the season? If everything goes well, it looks like that might happen. At the moment though it’s too early to make that call.”

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    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Austin – Gyasi Zardes

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    Charlotte – Patrick Agyemang

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    The only player in Charlotte FC's MLS history to score in three straight league matches is Karol Swiderski in October 2023.

    MATCH PREDICTION: DRAW

    Austin won the only previous meeting between the sides, 1-0, in Charlotte in June 2022. Daniel Pereira scored the game's only goal from outside the box in the 62nd minute.

    Over the last year (since July 21, 2023), Austin have lost 18 of their 37 matches in all competitions (nine wins, 10 draws). The Verde were held to one or zero goals in 24 of those games, including their 3-1 loss to FC Dallas on Wednesday.

    Charlotte have collected 13 points from their last seven away matches (four wins, one draw, two losses), including a 1-1 draw at reigning MLS Cup Champion Columbus Crew on Wednesday. Charlotte had totaled just eight points in their previous 15 regular-season away matches dating back to last May (one win, five draws, nine defeats).

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Austin – 34.6%

    Draw – 25.9%

    Charlotte – 39.6%

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