Arsenal youngster Emile Smith Rowe believes the Gunners’ failure to reach the Champions League last season will act as ‘fuel’ in 2022/23.
A number of late-season defeats – including against arch-rivals Tottenham – saw Arsenal relinquish their grip on a top four place, ultimately finishing fifth as Spurs agonisingly took the last Champions League place at their expense.
However, a fifth-place finish was still a significant improvement in itself for a young Arsenal side, and Smith Rowe is hopeful that the disappointment at missing out on the top four – coupled with some impressive new signings – will act as ‘fuel’ next season.
“It’s definitely tough looking back on it, it was in our hands,” the 21-year-old told the Evening Standard. “The Spurs game…it was tough. It wasn’t a nice atmosphere [in the dressing room]. All the boys were down.
“The manager picked us up and we had another chance after that, but it didn’t go our way in the end. Going forward, we have just got to stick together as a team. We are a young team, we are still getting there. It’s fuel for us going forward and we can’t wait to start the season.”
Arsenal have been busy in the transfer window as they look to take that next stride back into Europe’s premier club competition, with Gabriel Jesus and Fabio Vieira their most notable signings. The Gunners are also closing in on Jesus’ former Man City teammate Oleksandr Zinchenko.
“It will be a good season, a tough season,” Smith Rowe added. “The big clubs are buying players and every season is hard, but we are confident. It’s been a long time since we’ve been in the Champions League. We need to get back in it, not just for us but for the fans as well.”