Mikel Arteta sets goals and assists target for Emile Smith Rowe and explains why he was subbed off

Emile Smith Rowe celebrates scoring for Arsenal during the Premier League match between Arsenal and West Bromwich Albion at Emirates Stadium on May 09, 2021 in London, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors.
Smith Rowe scored his first Premier League goal (Picture: Getty)

Mikel Arteta has set Emile Smith Rowe a target of scoring 15 goals and providing 10 assists a season if he wants to become a ‘top’ No. 10 at Arsenal.

Arteta hailed Smith Rowe’s ‘incredible’ first season as a first-team regular, despite a lack of goals.

The 20-year-old scored his first Premier League goal on Sunday, volleying home after good work from Bukayo Saka down the left-hand side, as Arsenal won 3-1.

He joined Nicolas Pepe and Willian on the scoresheet as the Gunners bounced back from a Europa League exit in midweek, relegating West Brom in the process.

Arteta was pleased to see Smith Rowe notch his first goal but set the bar high for what he expects from the youngster in the future.

‘It tells a lot of where we are. He’s having an incredible season since he started to play in December,’ said Arteta in his post-match press conference.

Mikel Arteta, Manager of Arsenal looks on during the Premier League match between Arsenal and West Bromwich Albion at Emirates Stadium on May 09, 2021 in London, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors.
Arteta set Smith Rowe a fresh goals and assists target (Picture: Getty Images)

‘But he scored his first Premier League goal. And an incredible season for the No. 10 of Arsenal needs to score 15 goals with 10 assists and then you are right up there with the top guns in Europe and in this league.

‘He’s got the ability to do it but he hasn’t done it. We need to stay calm with him, give him the right support and step by step I think he will be doing more.’

Smith Rowe’s afternoon was brought to a premature end as he was substituted in the 63rd minute, with Arteta revealing he was struggling with a hamstring issue.

‘I don’t know, but he felt something in his hamstring so he had to come off,’ added the Arsenal boss.

‘I don’t know [how long he’ll be out for]. Sometimes he cramps and he’s been cramping for a while.

‘To be fair, he’s still adapting to the league and the demands of playing every three days. Hopefully it’s nothing major.’

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