Emile Smith Rowe has found minutes difficult to come by this season, despite being fit to make every single one of Arsenal’s matchday squads so far.
The midfielder played a few minutes of the Community Shield win over Manchester City back at the start of August, but he then sat on the bench for five games in a row as the Premier League kicked off.
An academy graduate and a fan favourite, it was no surprise to see Smith Rowe getting a good reception from the supporters as he finally prepared to enter the pitch as a substitute against PSV Eindhoven on Wednesday.
But the scale of the response was perhaps a little surprising, with a roar going up in the stands as the 23-year-old was called back from his warm-up.
Speaking after the game, Mikel Arteta admitted the response from the supporters left him feeling a bit emotional.
“We could manage the minutes of some of [the starters], especially because of where they were coming from and with the national teams where they played a lot of minutes,” Arteta began.
“As well, to give players minutes was fully deserved. I was really emotional when I saw the reception for Emile as well.
“He’s a player that hasn’t played much yet, and to get the reception that he got was well deserved and I’m so happy for him as well.”
After the game, Smith Rowe shared a picture on Instagram (seen above) of himself playing in the match, simply captioned “CL debut”.
It was a positive cameo from the former Arsenal academy youngster, and a performance he’ll now look to build on.