has laid the challenge down to to prove why he deserves a place in the starting XI.
Smith-Rowe has yet to start a game this season after a season riddled with injuries saw him make just twelve substitute appearances the campaign prior.
The Englishman looks set to start his first game for Arsenal since 16 May 2022 when and Arteta has challenged the 23-year-old to make the most of this rare opportunity.
‘There’s been many reasons why he hasn’t started a match. He was out for a long, long time,’ the Spaniard said.
‘In the last two matches he’s played more minutes and today he will have a big chance to show that he can play at this level and be a really important player for us.
‘He needs time on the pitch and he needs opportunities and we want to provide that to him. Then he needs to prove it like anybody else on the field that he deserves to play.’
Smith-Rowe broke into the Arsenal side during the 2021/22 season, scoring ten goals in 33 games as he signed a long-term contract with the club and was awarded the no.10 jersey.
But after groin surgery saw him miss a lot of action last season, the England international has found himself down the pecking order, especially after the signings of and .
The attacking midfielder attracted but Arteta still believes he has a big future at the club.
‘No. He needs to be a big part of this team going forward,’ Arteta said when asked if the club had considered letting Smith-Rowe leave the Emirates.
‘A player of that talent, who has come through our system. That is what we want to do. Now he needs the minutes and he needs to prove that he can do what he can do.’
Arsenal travel to Brentford on Wednesday looking to continue their unbeaten start to the season and book their place in the Carabao Cup fourth round.
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