‘Embarrassing!’ Ian Wright tells Arsenal’s senior players how they should feel watching Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe

Emile Smith Rowe starred in Arsenal's 3-0 win over Newcastle
Emile Smith Rowe starred in Arsenal’s 3-0 win over Newcastle (Picture: Getty)

Ian Wright believes Arsenal’s struggling senior stars should be embarrassed by the extent to which Mikel Arteta has become reliant on a core of young players and Emile Smith Rowe in particular.

Following a run of four successive home defeats, Arsenal had fallen to 15th in the table and were nervously glancing over their shoulders in anticipation of being dragged into a relegation scrap.

With almost nothing to lose, Arteta dropped the likes of Willian and club record signing Nicolas Pepe, placing is faith in the likes of Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka who were given prominent roles in a new-look starting XI.

The pair have helped transform Arsenal’s fortunes and the academy graduates were again to the fore in last night’s 3-0 win over Newcastle as Arteta’s team collected its fourth victory from the last five games in all competitions.

Smith Rowe, who registered another assist, providing the chance from which Saka all but secured another three points, has assumed the mantle of Arsenal’s creator in chief. And while Wright has been delighted by the 20-year-old’s progress he hopes some of the more experienced players Arteta has at his disposal will be galvanised.

‘I think there was a time when they came in it was embarrassing,’ Wright told Premier League Productions. ‘When they came in they brought that energy and enthusiasm and exuberance,

‘We were seeing players who weren’t really at it for him. In the end he took a massive chance and brought those guys in and they’ve done it, Emile Smith Rowe in particular.

‘Nobody was playing that role. Now he’s in a fantastic position because the youngsters have mobilised the senior players have to perform now.’

Asked last night, meanwhile, how easy a decision it was to leave out some of the big-name players who have been forced to sit on the bench in recent weeks, Arteta said: ‘Yes. The players that don’t play are obviously never happy.

‘But what we ask them to do is to try to improve, to keep pushing everybody and when they have their opportunities to show that they’re better than the ones that are playing and that we are wrong with our decisions.

‘To be fair, everybody is training hard, everybody is trying to contribute and the ones that are not playing, their attitude and behaviour has been so far, so good.’

MORE : Ian Wright hits back at ‘rubbish’ criticism of Arsenal star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

MORE : Mikel Arteta sends warning to struggling Arsenal star Ainsley Maitland-Niles

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