Rob Edwards praises ‘exceptional’ Arsenal star after Luton Town defeat | Football

Luton were comfortably beaten 2-0 by Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium (Picture: Getty)

Rob Edwards was full of praise for Arsenal star Emile Smith Rowe after he produced a man of the match display against Luton Town last night.

The England international was handed only his third start of the Premier League campaign by Mikel Arteta last night, who opted to rotate his team ahead of Saturday evening’s trip to Brighton.

With Bukayo Saka not fit enough to make the match day squad and Declan Rice given a much needed and well earned breather, Smith Rowe made the starting XI for the first time since late January.

The 23-year-old rewarded Arteta’s faith with a man of the match performance in a 2-0 victory which saw the Gunners return to the top of the table where they will remain for 24 hours at least.

Smith Rowe was at the heart of both goals in a first half that was utterly dominated by the home side, who never looked like relinquishing their advantage during a comfortable second period.

Smith Rowe, understandably, tired in the second 45 minutes but Edwards was impressed with the Hale End Academy graduate’s display which gave his own manager a timely reminder of his credentials.

‘He’s a really good player,’ said the Hatters boss in his post match press conference. ‘I was lucky enough, he probably won’t remember, but I did a few England camps with him at the Under-20s when I was at the FA and I thought he was outstanding.

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‘We played Portugal and we won 4-0 in Portugal and I thought he was brilliant and I’ve always been a big admirer of his.

‘I thought he was really good. He’s a top player. They’ve got a lot of top players here and he’s just been unfortunate not to get in but I think he’s an exceptional player.’

Arteta, by his own admission, has struggled to give opportunities to a player who played a key role in kickstarting his Arsenal revolution during the early period of his tenure.

Injuries and the increased level of competition have been factors in Smith Rowe having been reduced to a bit-part role, but Arteta remains a huge level of admiration for a player whose potential has never been in doubt.

Speaking after the game, Arteta said:  ‘I love him as a player. It’s a joy to watch him, how he moves, how he changes direction, how physical he was today as well without the ball.

‘He won a lot of duels and he was thinking with that killer instinct to play forward and to make things happen and when Emile is in that moment it’s very difficult to stop him. Today he helped us a lot to win the game.’

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