'Pires feet', 'Scholes in the making': Pundits compare Arsenal star to football icons

Nathaniel Kay February 15, 2021
Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Tony Adams and Andy Townsend were bursting with compliments for Emile Smith Rowe after he produced another dazzling Arsenal display last night, speaking on Premier League productions.

The young Gunner was heavily involved in the action during last night’s 4-2 victory over Leeds United.

Mikel Arteta deployed Smith Rowe off the left instead of his customary attacking midfield role.

And the move didn’t seem to harm his game in the slightest as Smith Rowe continued to ooze confidence and class.


He even grabbed a contentious assist that admittedly looked like a shot to set-up Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang’s hat-trick.

Smith Rowe – playing like Pires

Adams began the appraisal by comparing Smith Rowe to a former teammate and Arsenal legend.

“The kid’s got talent. He’s got Robert Pires feet,” said the ex-Gunners captain.

“He plays everything one touch. He’s intelligent. He plays everything first time.”

Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Townsend continued the accolades, likening Smith Rowe to one of England’s greatest midfielders.  

“That young man is so good. He’s got great awareness. He’s a Paul Scholes in the making,” admitted the former Chelsea man.

“He really is. He can play as a ten. He showed today he can play off one side and come in.

“He’s just got that fantastic ability and awareness of what’s going on around him. Not all young players have that.”

Rowe-ing Arsenal forward

Although praise of greatness can often turn out to be premature, there’s no questioning Smith Rowe’s talent.

An extremely intelligent player who always thinks progressively, the 20-year-old offers Arsenal an extra dimension when attacking.

The Gunners have arguably been missing that instinctiveness since Mesut Ozil’s sorry demise. Smith Rowe’s impact at the moment is undeniable.

He has started the past ten Premier League games as part of Arteta’s reboot. In that period, Arsenal have only lost twice.

Gunning for the youngsters

It’s no coincidence Arsenal’s rich vein of form has coincided with Smith Rowe’s introduction and the continued improvement of fellow prodigy Bukayo Saka.

Throw in 19-year-old Gabriel Martinelli and 22-year-old Martin Odegaard, and the Gunners’ future looks extraordinarily bright.

With the European Championships slowly creeping into view, Gareth Southgate will be given a serious selection headache if Smith Rowe persists with his outstanding performances.  

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Nathaniel is a football journalist who graduated from the University of Derby. He has worked at Burton Albion as part of their media team for two years. Nathaniel produces regular articles for the club’s official website and match-day programme. He covered the 2018 U20 Women’s World Cup in Brittany and has reported from grounds ranging from non-league up to the Premier League.