Mikel Arteta has praised the performance of Jakub Kiwior in Arsenal’s Under-21 defeat away to Chelsea and believes both the defender and Emile Smith Rowe still have roles to play this season.
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The duo were both handed starts in Monday night’s match having had watching briefs with the first-team in the Premier League since the turn of the year, though were withdrawn at the half-time break.
Kiwior in particular gave an impressive display, with his composure on the ball, range of passing and cultured left foot all getting rave reviews from supporters.
Arsenal dominated much of the contest and Smith Rowe went close to scoring twice.
After the two senior players were withdrawn, the Gunners had less of the ball and were undone by a late, deflected goal in a 1-0 defeat.
Arteta was pleased to see both players finally get some pitch time and insists they could be called upon in the coming weeks despite their recent lack of opportunities.
Asked how he assessed the performances of both players, Arteta replied: ‘Really good.
‘Obviously they needed some minutes and at the moment they haven’t had much exposure [to the first-team] for different situations.
‘It was great to see them on the field, because we’re going to need them in the next couple of games.’
Kiwior is yet to make his senior debut for Arsenal since joining from Spezia in January, while Smith Rowe has only managed two late substitute appearances against Spurs and Oxford United in January.
Arsenal’s next two matches are at home to Everton and Bournemouth, though their fixture schedule starts to get a little bit more busy when their Europa League campaign resumes with a last-16 tie against Sporting.
The return of European action will give Arteta the opportunity to rotate his squad, having stuck with a largely settled XI since the turn of the year, but he played down suggestions his fringe players might look to leave in the summer.
Asked specifically about whether the likes of Kieran Tierney may start to think about leaving the club to get more regular game time elsewhere, Arteta replied: ‘I don’t know, I’m not thinking about that.
‘I’m thinking about the best for the team, and obviously earn the players with the right to play minutes, which they all deserve, and we’re going to try to do that in the next couple of games.’
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