Smith Rowe proves Wright correct with starring role in Arsenal win v West Brom
Arsenal youngster Emile Smith Rowe proved that Ian Wright was correct to tip him to start and for Willian to be dropped for the Gunners' recent matches.
Willian has flattered to deceive since joining from Chelsea in the summer, with his performances criticised by both pundits and supporters.
As a result, the Brazilian has been left out of Arsenal's last three Premier League games – all of which they have won.
And their upturn in form has also coincided with 20-year-old Smith Rowe coming into the team.
The attacking midfielder particularly impressed in the 4-0 victory against West Brom on Saturday, adding two more assists to the one he got against Chelsea recently and looking a constant threat to the Baggies defence.
Wright's words from last month now appear particularly prophetic – with the Gunners legend pleading with Mikel Arteta to drop Willian and start the likes of Smith Rowe instead.
Speaking on Optus Sport’s The Kelly and Wrighty Show, Wright said: "I have to say, from my point of view, with the manager and the players he’s picking now, I think people like Emile Smith Rowe and Joe Willock and those guys, I’d like to see them have a chance.
"That’s simply because you’re looking at the Willians, it’s not happening and he’s not playing well. Why are you playing people like Kolasinac? Why are you playing someone like Mustafi?
"I’d rather see [William] Saliba who is playing in the Under-23s, I’d rather see Smith Rowe and I’d rather see something different.
"That’s what he needs, players who are contributing. Arsenal have to realise they’re in a situation that can get worse and if they do lose those games against Brighton and West Brom… those games are must-win games."
As it turns out, they did go onto win those games, due in no small part to Smith Rowe.
It remains to be seen if Arteta continues to keep faith in the youngsters, but it certainly doesn't seem to be doing he and his side any damage at the moment as they continue to climb the table and turn their season around.
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