Arsenal 20yo midfielder loan at Charlton picking up speed

Charlton Athletic v Portsmouth Sky Bet League 1 Matt Smith of Charlton Athletic during the Sky Bet League 1 match at The Valley, London. Copyright: Ben Peters
Charlton Athletic v Portsmouth Sky Bet League 1 Matt Smith of Charlton Athletic during the Sky Bet League 1 match at The Valley, London. Copyright: Ben Peters

Matt Smith is getting off to a slow start to his loan with Charlton Athletic, but he helped them to a win in his second start earlier this week.

Charlton Athletic v Portsmouth - Sky Bet League One - The Valley Charlton Athletic s Matt Smith right comes on for the substituted Andrew Shinnie during the Sky Bet League One match at The Valley, London. Picture date: Tuesday February 2, 2021. Copyright: John Walton
Charlton Athletic v Portsmouth – Sky Bet League One – The Valley Charlton Athletic s Matt Smith right comes on for the substituted Andrew Shinnie during the Sky Bet League One match at The Valley, London. Picture date: Tuesday, February 2, 2021. Copyright: John Walton

Arsenal loanee Matt Smith spent the first half of the season with Swindon Town, where he earned plenty of praise in the underperforming League One side.

There was a sense that he wasn’t quite as in favour with the new Swindon boss for the final few weeks of his spell, but it didn’t matter, as Arsenal decided to recall and re-loan him in January anyway.

Smith remained in League One, joining play-off hopefuls Charlton Athletic. But so far, he’s still trying to break into the starting lineup.

Seven games into his spell, Smith is yet to play a full 90, but he finally came close this week. Making his second start, against Wigan Athletic, the midfielder played 81 minutes as Charlton won their first match in five.

It was a solid performance, if not hugely impactful. Smith completed 86% of his passes and his only attempted dribble, created one chance, and made two interceptions, but he only had 29 touches across those 81 minutes on the pitch.

The biggest positive was that Charlton got the 1-0 win. Given their recent struggles for results, you’d think they’d be in favour of giving Smith and the rest of Tuesday’s lineup further opportunities now.

At the very least, it’s a step forward from the average of 20 minutes a game Smith racked up in the previous six matches.