Arteta pulls no punches over what Smith Rowe “needs to get better at”


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Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has pulled no punches in his assessment of what improvements Emile Smith Rowe needs to make with his performances.

Arteta saw the Gunners fall to an embarrassing defeat to Scottish Premiership side Hibernian in their first match of pre-season.

It is set to be a critical campaign in Arteta’s reign, with many demanding an improvement after seeing the Spaniard only guide his side to an eighth-place finish in the Premier League last term.

One of the few bright spots of what was a disappointing season was the emergence of Smith Rowe, who became a regular under Arteta.

Mikel Arteta knows exactly what Emile Smith Rowe needs to improve on
Mikel Arteta knows exactly what Emile Smith Rowe needs to improve on

But his impressive performances have also drawn the eye of Aston Villa, who have seen two bids for Smith Rowe rejected by the Gunners.

Arteta wants to hand the attacking midfielder a new long-term contract, but talks have not yet progressed.

In fact, Smith Rowe has previously been said to have been blown away by the interest from the Midlands club.

The Arsenal boss though still sees him as a key member of his squad, with the Spaniard taking them to Scotland this week for a pre-season training camp.

They travelled to Easter Road to face Hibernian on Tuesday evening, with Smith Rowe starting the game on the bench.

It was a disappointing start to the campaign though, with Arthur Okonkwo missing Cedric Soares’ back-pass to hand Martin Boyle a tap-in after 20 minutes.

The Gunners did have chances to equalise but nearly conceded again when Steven Bradley hit the post with five minutes left of the half.

Arteta made seven changes at the break, with Smith Rowe one of those to come on for the second-half.

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Despite an improvement from the Gunners, it was Hibs who scored next, with Daniel Mackay heading in following a corner.

Nicolas Pepe had the chance to pull a goal back but saw his penalty saved by Matt Macey.

Smith Rowe finally got his side on the scoresheet with eight minutes left when he volleyed in Hector Bellerin’s cross.

Getting on the scoresheet is something that Arteta wants to see more of from Smith Rowe as Arsenal continue their pre-season preparations.

Smith Rowe scored as the Gunners lost to Hibernian in their first game of pre-season
Smith Rowe scored as the Gunners lost to Hibernian in their first game of pre-season

“He knows that it is a part of the game he needs to get better at,” he told Arsenal’s club website.

“We are working on it a lot and you could see the positions that he took today. He created two or three big chances.”

Despite the loss, Arteta is not concerned that this season could continue like last term.

“I’m always disappointed when we lose a football match but it is the first game, we played with many kids and we only had four training sessions,” he added.

“We’ve trained really hard and you could see that the players were a little bit leggy. I think we conceded the first goal, an accident, and the second goal was clearly offside.

“We created many, many chances but we didn’t score. That’s what pre-season is for, to take the things that we haven’t done well into a training session and then improve.”


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