Emile Smith Rowe explains the superstition that has become his Arsenal trademark

Emile Smith Rowe has made an instant impact since graduating to Arsenal's Premier League side
Emile Smith Rowe has made an instant impact since graduating to Arsenal’s Premier League side (Picture: Getty)

Arsenal starlet Emile Smith Rowe has been likened to Aston Villa talisman Jack Grealish, but the similarities do not extend simply to their playmaking abilities.

Mikel Arteta promoted the 20-year-old to his Premier League starting XI on Boxing Day for the London derby against Chelsea with a struggling Arsenal side on the brink of being dragged into a relegation scrap.

Smith Rowe’s presence, along with fellow youngsters Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli, helped galvanise Arsenal who swept to an unlikely 3-1 victory.

The Hale End graduate was subsequently a key figure in a seven-game unbeaten run that came to an unfortunate end at Wolves in midweek, where the Gunners took the lead but succumbed to defeat following two red cards.

As eye-catching as Smith Rowe’s performances have been, he has also drawn attention as a result of him wearing his socks unusually low around his ankles, just like Villa skipper Grealish.

‘I try to be free in my mind,’ said Smith Rowe, attempting to explain the reason behind his trademark look. ‘There’s one thing I do, which is wear my socks low.

Jack Grealish of Aston Villa also wears his socks around his ankles
Jack Grealish of Aston Villa also wears his socks around his ankles (Picture: Getty)

‘I feel like that gives me a lot of freedom, I don’t know why. It’s just a little superstition. I feel like I always have a lot of freedom on the pitch, and like I said earlier, all the players give me confidence and that makes it even easier for me.’

The youngster spent time out on loan at RB Leipzig and Huddersfield before earning his first team stripes at Arsenal and he admitted his sudden promotion came as a shock, revealing he thought he was in trouble when Arteta called him in for a meeting ahead of the Chelsea match.

He added: ‘I found out I was in the starting XI against Chelsea on the day of the game. I had a knock on my hotel room door and it was one of the coaches basically saying, ‘The manager would like to speak to you downstairs’.

‘I was thinking like, ‘Am I in trouble? Have I done something wrong?’ I’ve literally gone down there, he’s sat down in a chair and stuff, and he’s just looked at me and said, ‘Basically, I’ve got good news: you’re starting tonight’. 

‘He had the tactics board in front of him and just showed me where I was playing and what I should do. It just gave me so much confidence. I was so surprised. My heart was beating so quickly and stuff. It was such a big game against a big team like Chelsea. 

‘I was really nervous but at the same time it was a really big moment. I’ve always got that little bit of nerves before every game. Whatever game I’m playing, I’ve always got that little bit of nerves.

‘The players helped and they’ve all helped me as I’ve been playing and stuff, so that gave me so much more confidence going into the game. I think as soon as I stepped on to the pitch, I tried not to think about it too much. I tried to play my game.’

MORE : ‘It is madness’ – Kevin Campbell slams David Luiz red card decision after Arsenal’s defeat to Wolves

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