Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has confessed that he is considering using winger Emile Smith Rowe as a central striker to get him into the team.
The 21-year-old has struggled to hold down a regular spot in Arteta’s lineup over the last few months, playing in a number of different positions and often coming off the bench, but that has not stopped him from scoring five goals in his last eight Premier League outings.
Smith Rowe is now Arsenal’s top scorer this season, while starting striker Alexandre Lacazette has just three goals to his name.
With Lacazette set to leave the club this summer – 90min understands a contract extension is unlikely – Arsenal will need to find a new striker for the future and Arteta has confirmed that Smith Rowe and fellow winger Gabriel Martinelli in contention.
“I am tempted, yes, because they want to play and when you see players training and playing the way they do, you want to throw them all on the pitch,” Arteta said of the pair. “Unfortunately, 11 is the limit.”
“It depends on the role you want them to play and the role you want from the nine,” the Arsenal boss continued. “They have very different qualities, they would change our structure and the spaces that we would attack, the positions that would threaten, how they fix the opponent in certain areas.
“It would depend on the behaviour of the opposition as well, to understand which context would benefit both of them.
“They have changed quite a lot of positions as well and we have to be careful sometimes with how much we change them. But the moment they are ready, it is another opportunity to use them as well in the future.”
Despite discussing replacing Lacazette, Arteta reiterated his faith in the veteran Frenchman and backed him to play a big role over the end of the season.
“[Lacazette] knows as a striker what is demanded of him, and that is to be involved in goals and the chance creation of the team,” he continued. “He is doing a lot of things right in attack, and out of possession as well. He needs to continue to do that.
“The ball will go in the net very soon. He has been unlucky because he has had the chances to score as well, some goals in the last few weeks.
“He needs to continue to do that, to generate those chances for his team-mates, to be in front of goal in the positions we ask him to be in. The goals will come.”
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