Matt Smith has been recalled from Swindon Town and is moving out on loan to Charlton Athletic for the second half of the season.

Matt Smith (L) and Bukayo Saka (R) with the FA Cup trophy (Photo via Arsenal on Twitter)
Matt Smith (L) and Bukayo Saka (R) with the FA Cup trophy (Photo via Arsenal on Twitter)

Arsenal have now confirmed that Matt Smith is trading Swindon Town for Charlton Athletic for the remainder of the season. The midfielder was on loan with Swindon for the full campaign, but they’ve decided to end it early and send him to Charlton instead.

Charlton are also in League One, so it’s not a step up the divisions, but they’re in a much better position in the table. Swindon Town were fighting relegation in 22nd, whilst Charlton are pushing for a play-off place in 7th. They’re actually only eight points off top.

The 20-year-old played very regularly for Swindon Town in the first half of the season, proving one of Arsenal’s busiest loanees. Smith made 26 appearances, scoring two goals and assisting four from midfield.

Matt Smith’s performances were often praised, so it was a surprise to hear he might be returning to Arsenal. However, perhaps this was driven by a desire to promote the player to a club fighting nearer the top end of the league.

Swindon Town certainly imply it wasn’t their decision, reporting that Arsenal exercised their option to recall him. Hopefully, it will prove a positive switch for the youngster’s development.

On the positive side for Swindon, at least they won’t have to face him again. They’ve already played Charlton home and away, as well as in the League Cup.

20 December 2020

Matt Smith provided his fourth assist of the season for Swindon Town on Saturday, helping them score a last-minute equaliser against Charlton Athletic.

Swindon Town Midfielder Matthew Smith runs with the ball during the EFL Sky Bet League 1 match between Oxford United and Swindon Town at the Kassam Stadium, Oxford, England on 28 November 2020. Copyright: Marek Dorcik
Swindon Town Midfielder Matthew Smith runs with the ball during the EFL Sky Bet League 1 match between Oxford United and Swindon Town at the Kassam Stadium, Oxford, England on 28 November 2020. Copyright: Marek Dorcik

One of the big positives of Arsenal’s loan campaign so far is Matt Smith, playing in midfield for Swindon Town this season.

Though the team are flirting with League One relegation, Smith is consistently one of their top performers, with many fans remarking that he would have countless assists if their forwards could actually finish the chances he makes.

The midfielder did manage to provide one this weekend, and it was a vital one.

With Swindon Town 2-1 down in the 90th minute, Smith swung in a corner for Brett Pitman to head home. You can watch it here from 1:44.

It wasn’t the first time Smith rescued his loan team late on. He provided a 93rd-minute assist for the winner against Forest Green Rovers last month, and scored a 93rd-minute equaliser against Shrewsbury Town later that same week.

Smith is in the top three chance creators in League One, making 37 key passes and creating five big chances, resulting in four assists.

It’s obviously not the same playing in League One compared to the Premier League, but just for a fun comparison, the top Arsenal creator in league games this season has made 15 key passes.

7 December 2020

Arsenal loan midfielder Matt Smith is now in the top-five players in League One for chances created this season, after making another four on Saturday.

Swindon Town Midfielder Matthew Smith plays a pass during the EFL Sky Bet League 1 match between Oxford United and Swindon Town at the Kassam Stadium, Oxford, England on 28 November 2020. Copyright: Marek Dorcik
Swindon Town Midfielder Matthew Smith plays a pass during the EFL Sky Bet League 1 match between Oxford United and Swindon Town at the Kassam Stadium, Oxford, England on 28 November 2020. Copyright: Marek Dorcik

As so often this season, Matt Smith was one of Swindon Town’s top individual performers on Saturday. Despite losing 2-0 to Gillingham, Swindon arguably deserved a lot more from the game, largely thanks to Smith.

Though the scoreline doesn’t show it, the away side dominated the chances. They had 18 shots to Gillingham’s six and hit the woodwork twice.

Smith created four of those chances, taking him to 31 for the league season so far. Only four players have made more than that in League One, which is impressive for a player at a club just one point above the relegation zone.

The midfielder’s set pieces in particular are causing a lot of problems. On Saturday, one of his deep free-kick deliveries was headed narrowly wide, and another led directly to both instances of Swindon hitting the woodwork.

But that’s not the only way the 20-year-old is creating. In fact, 20 of his 31 chances have come from open play. He’s particularly strong on through balls, whether they lead directly to chances or not.

All the signs are positive for Smith at the moment, and I’m sure there will be plenty of interest in him at higher levels next summer if Arsenal themselves can’t find a place for him.

29 November 2020

Matt Smith had a positive impact for Swindon Town once again this weekend, as his loan side came from behind to earn a vital win.

Swindon Town Midfielder Matthew Smith runs with the ball during the EFL Sky Bet League 1 match between Oxford United and Swindon Town at the Kassam Stadium, Oxford, England on 28 November 2020. Copyright: Marek Dorcik
Swindon Town Midfielder Matthew Smith runs with the ball during the EFL Sky Bet League 1 match between Oxford United and Swindon Town at the Kassam Stadium, Oxford, England on 28 November 2020. Copyright: Marek Dorcik

Matt Smith has been in great form with Swindon Town so far this season and this weekend was no exception.

Swindon went into their match against Oxford United level with their opponents on points, and they went 1-0 down in the first 15 minutes. The scores remained the same until there were just five minutes left when Tom Broadbent fired home an equaliser.

Broadbent deserves most of the credit for his excellent technique in the finish, but Smith played a key role in the goal, taking the initial shot which ricocheted to the goalscorer.

Buoyed by the equaliser, Swindon went on to find the winner in injury time. In six minutes, they went from three points behind their opponents to three ahead.

Individually, it was another strong display from Smith. He created four chances and took six shots of his own as Swindon pushed for a goal, as well as making one interception, one tackle, and one clearance.

Across the whole of League One, Smith makes the top-10 for tackles, interceptions, key passes and big chances created. He’s the outright leader for Swindon in all four categories, just what you want from a midfielder.

But it’s always sweeter to put in those kinds of displays and get a win at the end of it.

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Arsenal fan since a young age, now a season ticket holder who enjoys writing, tweeting and making videos about the Gunners.