Arsenal starlet Emile Smith Rowe confident he can crack the Premier League

Chris Bailey 31/07/2018
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Arsenal youngster Emile Smith Rowe is targeting Premier League football after signing a new long-term deal at the Emirates Stadium.

The 18-year-old midfielder has been one of the highlights of pre-season for the Gunners as they head into the new campaign under new head coach Unai Emery.

Smith Rowe has come up through the ranks at Arsenal and was part of the tour squad which recently played two pre-season matches in Singapore.

The England youth international scored a memorable equaliser in the 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid and also looked at home as Emery’s side thrashed an inexperienced Paris Saint-Germain 5-1.

He could now feature against Chelsea in Dublin on Wednesday in Arsenal’s third and final International Champions Cup match having committed his future to the north London club.

Arsenal announced the deal on Tuesday afternoon with a statement on their official website.

Having seen fellow academy prospects such as Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Reiss Nelson and Eddie Nketiah get their first-team chances during Arsene

Wenger’s final season at the helm, Smith Rowe now wants to make his own mark as part of the new era.

“For this season I’m hoping to play for the under-23s,” he told arsenal.com.

“But my main target is to get minutes in the first team, progress, play well and impress the boss so I can maybe get chances in the Premier League one day.

“Knowing how Arsenal play and knowing the background of the club is something I really look up to.

“The new head coach really inspires me so hopefully I can get chances in the first team to prove how good I am.”

Nigeria winger Alex Iwobi is also close to agreeing a new contract, according to Emery, while the club will be keen for Aaron Ramsey to sign an extension as his current deal expires next summer.

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Tottenham and Man City most affected Premier League sides by World Cup fatigue

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Manchester United are not the Premier League side who have been hardest hit by the World Cup, despite Jose Mourinho’s complaints about the number of players missing from his pre-season group.

Tottenham‘s squad appears to be the one affected most by the tournament, with their players racking up 4,813 World Cup minutes in Russia according to FIFA.

Manchester City‘s players accounted for a similar total, 4,588, while Chelsea’s players featured for 4,042 minutes and Manchester United’s squad played for 3,959 minutes in total.

Manchester City had the largest World Cup contingent, with 16 of their players featuring among the 32 squads, ahead of Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham, who each sent 12 players to Russia.

Arsenal and Liverpool players featured far less than their ‘big six’ rivals, and four Premier League clubs did not send a single representative to Russia.

Mourinho’s angst unjustified

Mourinho

Manchester United’s nightmarish summer tour has been marked by frequent complaints from Jose Mourinho, lashing out at the club’s players, transfer policy, and the pointless nature of their US friendlies.

But a particular focus of Mourinho’s ire has been the World Cup, which he claims has decimated his squad – despite the numbers not backing him up.

He blamed the tournament for the injury suffered by Nemanja Matic soon after he returned from a post-World Cup break, and told the media that the depleted nature of his squad made United’s friendly schedule pointless.

“The majority of the players that played are not going to play – some of them are not even going to belong to the squad,” he said.

“This is not our team, this is not our squad – not even 30 per cent of it.”

However, Mourinho’s complaints about the impact of the World Cup on United’s preparations are hardly backed up by evidence.

Manchester United may have been unfortunate with crucial players featuring in the latter stages, such as Paul Pogba and in particular Romelu Lukaku, who is almost irreplaceable in Mourinho’s system.

But they could equally benefit from Alexis Sanchez and Eric Bailly’s absences from the tournament, and the early exit of David De Gea’s Spain at the last 16 stage.

Spurs could be hardest hit

kane 12

Spurs, with Harry Kane, Jan Vertonghen, Hugo Lloris and Dele Alli among others who played well into July, look to be most at risk from post-World Cup exhaustion, especially considering their small squad and lack of signings so far this summer.

Manchester City, too, have suffered from a weakened squad for their summer friendly schedule, with 16 players enjoying post-World Cup breaks – but Pep Guardiola has been predictably more upbeat about the prospect of blooding youngsters in the club’s friendly games.

Arsenal and Liverpool benefit

Aubameyang 1

Arsenal (1,923 minutes) and Liverpool (2,545 minutes) may be in line to benefit from other sides’ fatigue, with stars like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Naby Keita from countries which failed to reach the tournament.

Chelsea, meanwhile, will perhaps do better than these statistics suggest, with fringe players, such as Kenneth Omeruo, and goalkeepers, less at risk of fatigue, accounting for many of their World Cup minutes. Players such as Alvaro Morata, Pedro and new signing Jorginho have had a restful summer after missing out on the tournament.

Of the teams outside the big six, Leicester had the most representatives at the World Cup, with nine, including new signing Ricardo Pereira.

Meanwhile, towards the bottom of the table, Bournemouth, Watford, and newly-promoted duo Cardiff and Fulham were able to head into pre-season with a full contingent, after none of their players were included in World Cup squads.

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Arsenal hand academy graduates most playing time, Man United second and Man City near bottom

Tom White 31/07/2018
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Alex Iwobi

Arsenal cemented their position as the Premier League side offering most opportunities to their youngsters as Arsene Wenger left a long-term legacy in his final season in charge.

For the second season running, Press Association Sport research showed that the Gunners relied on their own academy graduates for more playing time than any other team – 7,933 minutes in all.

And this time around, they also used the most individual players developed in-house, an honour previously held by Manchester United.

United, whose academy produced the most Premier League players and playing time in the division overall, ranked second in terms of using their own graduates with Everton occupying the final podium spot in the study.

At the other end of the scale, Burnley did not call on a product of their own academy until the final two minutes of the season, when Dwight McNeil came on as a substitute against Bournemouth.

Young Guns

The study tracked the playing time of every player in last season’s Premier League, along with the club or academy where they finished their youth career.

Hector Bellerin and Alex Iwobi continued to fly the flag for Arsenal’s homegrown brigade, while Jack Wilshere’s return from a loan spell at Bournemouth boosted their figures – the sometime England midfielder, though, was released at the end of the season and joined West Ham.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles stepped up from a solitary minute in the Premier League in 2016-17 to play 993 minutes last term – and the first Arsenal player born after Wenger took charge was joined in that niche category by Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock and Eddie Nketiah.

Francis Coquelin made it eight homegrown players, though the midfielder’s playing time was limited by the form of Mohamed Elneny.

The chasing pack

Scott McTominay

Scott McTominay

Twelve months previously, the study showed 10 United academy graduates featuring in Jose Mourinho’s Premier League team.

Many of those only featured late in the season, though, when Mourinho shuffled his pack to focus on the Europa League – Joel Pereira, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Demetri Mitchell, Scott McTominay, Josh Harrop and Angel Gomes each failed to crack 100 minutes.

McTominay was the only one to establish himself in 2017-18, playing 694 minutes to join Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard as regular contributors while Axel Tuanzebe featured for two minutes.

Southampton were the other team to reach five players but only James Ward-Prowse featured regularly, meaning Everton and Tottenham were next up in terms of playing time.

The Toffees re-signed Wayne Rooney from United – like Wilshere, he has since moved on – and also gave regular action to Tom Davies and Jonjoe Kenny, with Beni Baningime adding to the tally. Harry Kane led a Spurs contingent also featuring Danny Rose, Harry Winks and Kyle Walker-Peters.

City slackers

Phil Foden.

Phil Foden.

Manchester City compiled some impressive statistics as they swaggered to the Premier League title, but playing time for academy graduates was not among them.

The previous season’s only contributor, Kelechi Iheanacho, was sold to Leicester before the season started and none of his fellow prospects managed even the equivalent of a full match, though hopes are high for Phil Foden and Brahim Diaz.

They, along with Lukas Nmecha, combined for 152 minutes – only Bournemouth, with 74 minutes from Jack Simpson, and Burnley ranked lower.

The latter pair were two of five clubs to use only a single player developed in-house – though Brighton’s lone representative, Lewis Dunk, was a Premier League ever-present. Adrian Mariappa played 2,385 minutes for Watford while Connor Roberts accounted for all of Swansea’s 288-minute tally.

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