Ian Wright: Arsenal could lose Smith Rowe if they use Pepe and Willian

Ian Wright claims Arsenal could lose Emile Smith Rowe if they keep playing Nicolas Pepe and Willian in the youngster’s place… and the Gunners will regret that decision just like they did with Serge Gnabry’s departure

  • Emile Smith Rowe is enjoying a prominent spell in the Arsenal staring line-up 
  • The Gunners have won all three games since the midfielder was drafted in 
  • Ian Wright warns Arsenal could lose Smith Rowe if they don’t give him game time
  • Wright claims Nicolas Pepe and Willian could hamper Smith Rowe’s progress
  • Arsenal let fellow promising youngster Serge Gnabry leave for £5m in 2016

Arsenal legend Ian Wright fears the Gunners could regret losing Emile Smith Rowe if they carry on persisting with the underperforming Willian and Nicolas Pepe.

Smith Rowe has drafted into the Arsenal starting line-up by manager Mikel Arteta for the last three league games with the north Londoners picking up victory in every match.

Arsenal were on a six-game winless run before Smith Rowe was drafted into the line-up but Wright has called for Arteta to stick with the 20-year-old midfielder or regret the unused potential the Englishman has.

Ian Wright has called for Emile Smith Rowe (above) to keep his place in the Arsenal line-up

Wright believes Nicolas Pepe (left) and Willian (right) could hamper Smith Rowe’s progress

The Gunners let now-Bayern Munich winger Serge Gnabry go for just £5million back in 2016 – with the German international now a European champion with the Bundesliga side.

The former England striker told Wrighty’s House Podcast: ‘It must be brilliant going into training at the moment for someone like Emile Smith Rowe. 

‘He’s somebody who has had his injuries, he’s gone on loan, he’s done his stuff. For me, Smith Rowe has paid his dues out there, waiting for his chance.

‘I think that what Mikel has done now, the timing with which he’s done it, is absolutely perfect because I think if Smith Rowe doesn’t get into this team, at this stage, and they carry on doing what they’re doing and persisting with people who are not performing at the levels they should – whether it’s Willian or (Nicolas) Pepe – I think you lose him.

Smith Rowe (left) has helped Arsenal to wins in their last three Premier League games 

Wright believes the 20-year-old has earned his place in the Arsenal squad after a bit of time 

‘Especially with January being here, and then we’ve got a Serge Gnabry on our hands.’ 

Smith Rowe has one goal and four assists in his six Premier League and Europa League appearances this season as he looks to have recovered from several long-term injuries. 

A groin issue hampered a loan spell to RB Leipzig in the 2018-19 season, just a few months after making since Arsenal debut – with Smith Rowe spending the second-half of last season on loan at Huddersfield Town.

Following a promising spell at the Championship club, Smith Rowe was preparing to return to the Arsenal first-team at the start of this season but a shoulder problem delayed his progress.

Arsenal let Serge Gnabry go for just £5million back in 2016 – he is a now a European champion

Wright believes that Smith Rowe, along with other youthful additions such as Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli, has helped to improve Arsenal’s under-performing first-team regulars.

Wright added: ‘Gabriel Martinelli and Smith Rowe have energised (Alexandre) Lacazette, we’ve seen what Saka is doing. (Kieran) Tierney is amazing, future captain, you can see. (Rob) Holding, (Pablo) Mari looks okay, he’s going to be tested at some stage and we’ll see that.

‘(Granit) Xhaka and (Mohamed) Elneny in the middle there, just the energy. It’s seems like everybody has risen up a little bit.

‘We beat a Chelsea side where people were thinking we were going to get hammered and we beat West Brom. West Brom drew with Manchester City!’

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