After scoring the game-winning goal in Arsenal’s 1-0 triumph over ten-man Watford, Emile Smith Rowe showed England head coach Gareth Southgate just what he was missing.
At the Emirates, the Gunners had a frustrating first half, with Ben Foster saving a penalty from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang before denying Gabriel Magalhaes with a great low right-hand save.
After the half, Mikel Arteta’s side came out firing, and Smith Rowe beat Foster from the edge of the box to break the stalemate in the 56th minute, his third goal in his previous three Premier League outings.
At the death, Juraj Kucka was sent off for a second bookable offence, but the hosts hung on to earn all three points and draw level on points with fourth-placed West Ham in the table, extending their unbeaten run to ten games across all competitions.
Many expected Smith Rowe to be named in Southgate’s England squad for the team’s forthcoming World Cup qualifiers, but the midfielder was left out and has to settle for a spot with the Under-21s.
When asked about missing out on the latest England team following Arsenal’s victory, Smith Rowe told Sky Sports: ‘It’s essential I just put my head down and keep working hard. I’m pleased whoever I get called up for.’
Smith Rowe was overjoyed that his hard work on finishing paid off in Arsenal’s ‘tough’ game with Claudio Ranieri’s battling Watford side.
‘Today was a difficult game for us. Watford are a formidable opponent. ‘We’re glad we gained three points,’ the Arsenal academy product stated.
‘I am delighted to have scored.’ During training, I’ve been practicing. It’s incredibly special, and doing it at home in front of our fans makes it even more special.
‘We’ve been working incredibly hard, and it’s very crucial that we gained three points today.’
‘I think we’ve always had faith in ourselves and each other.’ It was simply a matter of banding together as a team, and we are such a close family.’
Smith Rowe’s inclusion at senior level, according to Southgate, is a “little bit early” ahead of the Three Lions’ qualifying matches against Albania and San Marino.
The England head coach, on the other hand, felt Arsenal’s No.10 was on a “very fantastic path” after a solid start to the season with his team.
‘Emile, Conor Gallagher, and Marc Guehi, in particular, are all doing really well with their clubs,’ Southgate told reporters.
‘To put those in, we have to leave some of these on the sheet out, and I don’t think it’s a terrible thing that we’re starting to build a really strong Under-21 squad because you need that depth.’
‘We fast track a lot of young players, and the majority of them are still in this squad, and a lot of them played a key role in the Euros.’
‘But we’ve also had some come up, and then when you put them back with the Under-21s, it becomes a lot more problematic, so we want to get the time right.’
‘I think the boys I just described are on a really good road, we like them, we’ll get a nice chance to watch them with the Under-21s as well as their club, but at the moment we think it’s a little bit early for some of those guys to come in.
‘We can put them in, and they will be just OK.’ But we believe the players we’ve chosen are only a smidgeon ahead at the moment.’