HOW quickly narratives change in the breakneck world of football.
It wasn’t that long ago Arsenal were rooted to the bottom of the Premier League table at the same time their fierce rivals Tottenham were undefeated at the very top.
Every media outlet in the land were quick to categorise the Gunners as a club in crisis while simultaneously talking up Manchester United’s trophy-winning potential.
Catching up to present day, Nuno Espirito Santo and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer are under considerable pressure after a series of poor results while Mikel Arteta has plenty of reasons to be cheerful.
Arsenal are undefeated in all competitions since they were thrashed by 5-0 by Manchester City at the end of August – a run of eight games and counting.
Importantly, six of those eight fixtures have resulted in victory.
Several players have contributed to the dramatic upturn but perhaps none more so than Emile Smith Rowe (£2.6m).
The 21-year-old has created more chances (19) than any of his team-mates in all competitions this season.
And in terms of concrete attacking output, he’s scored three goals and provided two assists in 820 minutes of action – a goal involvement every 164 minutes is very respectable.
It was a considerable show of faith from the club to give Smith Rowe the No10 shirt at the start of the season, a gesture that reinforced the belief that he is already capable of positively impacting Premier League games in the manner of previous high-profile players to wear the shirt such as Mesut Ozil, Robin van Persie and Dennis Bergkamp.
Arsenal knocked back a bid from Aston Villa in the summer only for the England youth international to rub salt into the wounds with a Star Man display against Dean Smith’s side last Friday.
Smith Rowe scored one goal and assisted another as Arteta’s men emerged as deserving 3-1 winners.
The 15-point haul was his biggest of the season so far, taking his overall Dream Team tally to 33 – only Mason Mount (£4.0m) and Phil Foden (£5.5m) have scored more points among midfielders so far this Game Week.
In terms of Smith Rowe’s position in the overall rankings, he’s still a couple of points off breaking into the top 15 midfielders but it’s no exaggeration to suggest he could breach the top ten at some stage this season.
At £2.6m he’s moderately priced and could unlock budget to invest elsewhere for Dream Team bosses in need of a reshuffle.
Arsenal don’t have European fixtures to fulfil this season but they did progress to the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup with a 2-0 win over Leeds on Tuesday night, potentially offering Smith Rowe some extra opportunities to score points.
Plus, their league fixtures are relatively favourable until the end of November.
They face an inconsistent Leicester before welcoming Watford to the Emirates – Liverpool will obviously provide a stiff test but a follow-up fixture at home to Newcastle should provide suitable relief.
If only Martin Tyler would stop calling Smith Rowe ‘the Croydon De Bruyne’ every 15 minutes…
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