‘He made the difference’ – Ozil praises Smith Rowe and points to value of a No.10
The young attacking midfielder has made the breakthrough at a time when the problematic 32-year-old is set to leave the Emirates
Mesut Ozil has said Emile Smith Rowe “made the difference” for Arsenal in recent weeks.
Smith Rowe has made the breakthrough at Arsenal this season, and his efforts in recent games have coincided with the Gunners’ uptick in form.
He has added effervescence and a creative spark from the number 10 role, to draw comparisons with Ozil.
Arsenal lacked a creativity during their dire run through November and December, and many eyes were focused on Ozil who was completely out of the picture – having not featured for the club since March.
With pressure mounting on manager Mikel Arteta, the Spaniard said there was a chance Ozil could come back into the fold.
The former Germany international could not have featured until January as he was not named in the Premier League squad at the start of the season.
Arteta could have changed his squad in January, but in the meantime he turned to Smith Rowe and the 20-year-old grasped his chance in style.
He impressed in wins over Chelsea, Brighton, West Brom and Newcastle – in the latter of which he scored the opening goal in the 2-0 win to propel them into the fourth round of the FA Cup.
Ozil has been an interested spectator from his sofa, and has been impressed with Smith Rowe’s performances.
And he reinforced the point that the youngster’s efforts prove that there is still room for a No.10 in the modern game.
“He made the difference in the last couple of games as a No.10,” Ozil said during a question and answer session on Twitter. “Really happy for him… and that he showed that playing with a No.10 still can make sense in today’s football.”
Ozil’s Arsenal career is drawing to a clos and had Smith Rowe not emerged and the Gunners’ poor form continued, the 32-year-old may have been drafted back into the fold.
But it now looks as if he is on his way out of the Emirates, possibly in January, and he talked up a move to Fenerbahce or MLS in his Q&A.
Despite the disappointing end to his Arsenal career, Ozil also admitted that he does not regret joining the club.