n a night when Arsenal bid farewell to Mesut Ozil, this was a reminder of what the future could look like.
Ozil has, of course, been out of the picture under Mikel Arteta for a while but now he is finally leaving for Fenerbahce, the post-Ozil era can begin in earnest.
Arsenal have been crying out for some creativity this season, particularly from someone who can play as a no10, and the 20-year-old from Croydon is answering the call.
Smith Rowe’s introduction into the side for the Boxing Day win over Chelsea has coincided with an upturn in form that has lifted the Gunners back into the top half of the table and his growing influence on the team cannot be understated.
His driving run and pass set up the second goal for Bukayo Saka against Newcastle as the youngsters who have breathed new life into the Arsenal team impressed again.
Smith Rowe now has five assists for the season, two more than any other Arsenal player, and since Christmas only Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes has created more chances than him.
While it may be unreasonable to expect a young player to maintain such a high level consistently, it at least demonstrates that his potential is exceptionally high.
Saka gives you the same feeling, although he is further along in his development than Smith Rowe despite being a year younger.
His goal on Monday means he has now scored three in his last six games – right at a time when Arteta needed someone to step up.
Alongside their exciting young players, Arsenal need experience heads and in Thomas Partey they have someone who looks capable of controlling a game. Against an admittedly poor Newcastle team, the £45million summer signing ran the midfield.
No one in the Arsenal squad, however, has more experience than captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and his two goals will have been particularly pleasing for Arteta.
Aubameyang was handed a lucrative, long-term contract last summer and after his form having nosedived there were question marks over whether that was the right deal. Sound familiar?
Unlike Ozil, Arteta always planned for Aubameyang to be a key part of the future at Arsenal. It is why he fought so hard to keep the forward in the summer – and performances like Monday night showed how what lies ahead could be bright for Arsenal.
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