Mikel Arteta has suggested Emile Smith Rowe can play very well as a central striker, as Arsenal head into the final months of the season with limited options.
Emile Smith Rowe is Arsenal’s top scorer in all competitions this season, bagging his 10th of the campaign to open the scoring for Mikel Arteta’s side at the weekend.
The midfielder has played a number of roles this season, and he seems to be carving out a niche on the left-wing, where he has seven goals and two assists in 11 games (per Transfermarkt).
But Mikel Arteta has suggested Smith Rowe’s goal output could even see him work in a centre-forward role.
“He can play as a left-winger, he can play as a left attacking midfielder, right attacking midfielder and he can play as a nine — very, very well I think,” Arteta told the media.
There are certainly some aspects of Smith Rowe’s play that are suited to a centre-forward role.
The 21-year-old’s touch and finishing ability are excellent, and he has a good awareness of the type of runs he needs to make in the box.
He can also finish with either foot, only scoring one more Premier League goal with his stronger right (six) than his weaker left (five).
For the Arsenal u23s/u21s, as well as on loan at Huddersfield, it was the same story. From the u21s upwards, Smith Rowe has actually scored more club goals with his left (14) than his right (13).
I would be more tentative when it comes to some other centre-forward qualities.
Smith Rowe doesn’t score goals with his head. He has not one single headed goal for club and country in 125 appearances for the u21s and above.
Playing with his back to goal and holding off a defender also doesn’t play to his strengths, which revolve more around running at a defence.
So I would say the jury is out on whether or not Arteta is right about this potential new position for Smith Rowe.