Emile Smith Rowe backed by Mikel Arteta to make timely return to form with Arsenal star ‘close’ to comeback

Smith Rowe has been out since early September after undergo surgery to repair a groin injury.

The 22-year-old midfielder has been limited to just 48 minutes of football this season, but he is nearing a return to form and should be back by early January.

And Arteta has backed Smith Rowe to make a big impact, with the Gunners looking to stay ahead of Manchester City at the top of the Premier League.

“Emile is close,” said Arteta, whose team is five points ahead of City. “He had a setback but he is there and he is in a good place.

“We have done many things with Emile. Sometimes he has been close, sometimes he has been to different places to see a different environment.

“His attitude has been great and this is part of any race, any development, to have periods where you are out and have long-term injuries.

“He has to react to that, but for sure he has our full support and he is a great talent that we need for the second part of the season at his best, because his contribution will be key for the team.”

Arsenal return to action at home to West Ham on Boxing Day, when Arteta will face his former Everton manager David Moyes.

“He had a huge impact, I am very grateful first of all for the confidence he showed in me and how much I learned from him on the field, off the field about building a team, about getting the right characters on the team to build what I wanted. you want,” said Arteta.

“He was very supportive the whole time with everything we did together. I had amazing memories with him because we had a very successful time.

“[West Ham] they are very dangerous because I am sure he has been working very, very hard with the team. Since he took over, he absolutely maximized the potential of that team and took it to a different level.

“I’m sure they’ve been working very hard, as we all have, in this term and I’m sure it’s going to be a very tough contest.” .

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