Arsenal v Atletico Madrid

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Bellerin - Why I believe Smith Rowe can make it

Hector Bellerin congratulates Emile Smith Rowe after his goal against Atletico Madrid in Singapore

Hector Bellerin knows all about breaking into the Arsenal first team as a teenager - after all, he was just 18 when he made his debut for us, and a year older when he became our first-choice right back.

Now another youngster is beginning to flourish - 17-year-old Emile Smith Rowe capped a fine display with an eye-catching equaliser in the first match of our 2018 Singapore tour, against Atletico Madrid.

So, what did Bellerin make of his team-mate’s performance?

on Smith Rowe’s goal…
It was a great goal. I’ve been training with him for a long time now and he’s a bright young player. He has the right attitude, the right conditions to make it and it’s all about him keeping his head in the games, train the way he’s playing. I’m sure he’ll get his chance.

on young players keeping him on his toes…
Definitely. I think everyone, not just me… there are players in all positions, with a lot of quality and loads of hunger. Now, with the new coach, they have a chance to impress him. Obviously I come from the academy, I did it in the same way and I’m really happy that our club pushes these players. 

on importance of playing quality sides in pre-season…
It’s really important. Our league starts in a couple of weeks, so we need to get ready. The games we’ve had back in England haven’t been at such a top level as Atletico, so it was needed for the team and also for us to learn about each other, with the young players and the new players, like Papa. It’s important to get rhythm with the new system, the new coaches. I think we had a very solid game. We didn’t score our chances but that’s something we’ll build on through the season. 

on creating chances in first half and giving confidence…
Definitely, I think the performance was really positive. Of course there are loads of things we need to improve, like mistakes when we conceded the goal, but overall I think our performance was positive. We did what we wanted to do. We had the ball, we created chances, so we just need to [build on it]. 

on going three and four at the back…
I think whatever the coach wants to play, everyone will adapt. Last season we played loads of times with a back four. For us it’s more about learning the trade, how the coach wants us to play in those systems. I feel like with the training we’re doing in these kind of games, we’ll perfect it.

on Singapore…
It’s the second time I’ve come to Singapore. It’s a lovely city. We have loads of fans here and around Malaysia and all of Asia. We’ve had people come from Thailand, from everywhere, so we’re very happy to be here and be able to prepare in front of them.

on the game - and changing strategy for PSG…
These games are all about building confidence and about learning how to play with the new players and the young ones. We have a new coach, a new mentality, a new way of playing. It’s not about changing tactics, it’s more about learning about each other and building up towards our season.

on if press reports on Ozil etc have distracted from team’s unity…
Not at all. I said my say on social media about the matter. I stand by it and I always stand by my team-mates. He’s a top professional and has always given his best for his country and his club. I feel very grateful that I get to share a dressing room with such a person.


‘I thought 'you know what, let me try’’

Emile Smith Rowe ensured he will never forget this trip to Singapore, by scoring a superb equaliser against Atletico Madrid on Thursday.

The 17-year-old midfielder beat a couple of players before sending his shot from the edge of the area into the top corner, early in the second half.

The Gunners eventually lost the International Champions Cup match on penalties, but that couldn't wipe the smile off Smith Rowe's face. After the match the England youth international spoke to Arsenal Media, to talk us through his first goal for the first team.

"I played a one-two with Aubameyang, one of their players tried to play it back, and I obviously got it," he explained. "Then I saw a bit of space, and I thought 'you know what, let me try, see what happens.' I had time to shoot, so I just thought 'let me try, have a chance', and luckily it just went in. I slipped, but I'm very happy anyway.

"To play with the first team, to get my opportunity is a bit surreal to be honest," he added. "I'm just so happy. I found out (I was going on tour) the day before. The kitman gave me a suitcase and said 'you are travelling to Singapore'. Since then I couldn't stop smiling. It's been a crazy experience so far. I've enjoyed every moment of it."

And it might yet get even better for the youngster, who graduated from the Hale End Academy, when Arsenal play the second and final game of the Singapore trip, against Paris Saint-Germain this Saturday.

"Yes, it's my birthday on Saturday," Smith Rowe said. "I turn 18, so if I get on it will be crazy!"

Post-Match Report

Arsenal 1-1 Atletico Madrid: How it happened

Emile Smith Rowe in action against Atletico Madrid


We were beaten on penalties by Atletico Madrid in the opening game of our two-match series in the International Champions Cup in Singapore.

We lined up in a fluid 4-3-3 formation again, with Emile Smith Rowe making an early impression with a driving run, before earning a rich round of applause not long afterwards after displaying quick feet to get away from two markers.

We were making all the running, and Alexandre Lacazette soon saw a shot turned around the post after good work from Rob Holding and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

But Atletico slowly grew into the game, and Shkodran Mustafi had to be alert to make an important block to deny Angel Correa, before Luciano Vietto half-volleyed one over moments later.

Lacazette twice went close before the half was out but with four minutes remaining, the Spaniards took the lead as Vietto headed in a Correa cross.

Smith Rowe had been outstanding in the first half, but he saved his best for the start of the second period as he beat no less than three men before rifling in a superb equaliser.

Aaron Ramsey – captain for this game – and Aubameyang both took aim as we looked to press home our advantage, while Atletico went close twice in quick succession after a scramble in the area.

With the scores deadlocked, the game went straight to a shoot-out but we were beaten after missing three of our spot kicks.


See how the match unfolded, and get the standout stats, by reading our comprehensive play-by-play commentary. 


After a day of activities in central Singapore on Thursday, we return to International Champions Cup action against Paris Saint-Germain on Saturday. 

The match, at the Singapore National Stadium, is nearly sold out but can still pick up tickets by clicking here


‘This is the moment for Emile Smith Rowe’

Emile Smith Rowe

He may be the youngest member of our tour squad, but Emile Smith Rowe has been nothing short of impressive during our time in Singapore.

The Hale End graduate, who celebrates his 18th birthday on Saturday, has trained with the first team since returning from his summer break and has certainly caught Unai Emery’s eye.
“First of all the club have given me a young player with a present and future in this club,” he said. “Emile is one of the club’s recommendations to come on tour with us and I am very happy with him.
“He’s played in every youth national team, from under-17s to under-15s. He’s improving, thanks to his work in the Arsenal academy, and he’s close to expressing his quality with the first team. He’s 17 so I think this is the moment for Emile Smith Rowe and I’m very happy with him.
“We want to create one mentality,” Emery added. “We want to create one team who plays with a big personality to become protagonists in each match. Now it’s very important for me to look at every player and also the young players. 

“It’s a good moment for the young players to express themselves, to work every day, to show us their quality. They are working with our senior players every day and I think although it’s every player’s chance to prove themselves, it’s a good time for the young players to work with us to express their quality.”


‘We’ve adapted to how Emery wants to play’

Mustafi in action against Atletico Madrid

Shkodran Mustafi has only been working with Unai Emery since the start of the month, but he has adapted to our new head coach’s philosophy seamlessly.

The World Cup winner played the first hour of Thursday’s International Champions Cup game against Atletico Madrid and, while we would eventually lose on penalties, was pleased with how well we’ve settled into Emery’s system.

“I don’t know how long it’s going to take for other people to get used to the head coach, but for us players, it’s already done,” he said. “From the first day, he told us what his philosophy is, what he wants to play, and I think for us players it is important to get that as quickly as possible. 

“The pre-season is not four or five months, it’s only a few weeks before you start the Premier League. I think we’ve adapted really quickly and I like the philosophy that the coach is bringing in.”

Mustafi started alongside Rob Holding before being withdrawn as we switched to a back three, and after the match he reiterated just how important it will be to be comfortable in multiple formations this season.

“Last year we played with three and four [at the back],” he said. “In football today, it’s important to be flexible and I think it’s good if a team can change, so that’s what we’ve been working on.

“We’ve been working more on the back four. Today we tried the last half an hour with a back three but it’s nothing new for us because as you mentioned, we’ve been playing that [way] last season. It’s something we need to work on because it makes you stronger and it gives you more possibilities to change during the game.”


Emery on Ramsey and the Arsenal captaincy

Aaron Ramsey wore the captain's armband against Atletico Madrid on Thursday - but will he keep it permanently?

Unai Emery was asked about it in his post-match press conference, and this is what he told the media:

on whether Ramsey will be his captain…

It’s not yet official, this decision, but I’ve said to you that I want five captains in the team. Then we will give the numbers for the first, second, third, fourth and fifth. Aaron has the potential to be captain.

on Ramsey’s contract…

Football changes every day. It’s not easy, but it does change. I was thinking about the match today, then preparation for the match Saturday. I think Aaron is an important player for us. The contract is one thing for the club and then one thing for the player. I want him to stay with us, to work with us, to give the team big performances with his quality. I think he’s going to stay here with us.

on reports in Italy suggesting Ivan Gazidis will join AC Milan…

For me, every day we are having meetings together and speaking about the Arsenal project. We always speak about how we can improve, how we can work together to give the club all the quality we can. When I arrived here, the first meeting was with Ivan. For me, he’s a very good person, a very good professional and he has a lot of experience in the football world. I don’t know what he’s going to do because I only speak with him about the Arsenal project.


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