By Mark Mann-Bryans, PA
Emile Smith Rowe admits it was “surreal” to hear his name ring around the Emirates Stadium as he hit his 10th goal of the season in Arsenal’s victory over Brentford.
The Gunners kept up their top-four aspirations with a 2-1 win as Smith Rowe and fellow academy graduate Bukayo Saka scored the second-half goals before Christian Norgaard’s last-gasp consolation strike.
Smith Rowe is Arsenal’s top goalscorer this season but came in for just his second start in the previous nine league games, with Gabriel Martinelli missing out through suspension.
Following a frustrating first half, the England international broke the deadlock just three minutes after the interval with a fine solo effort.
Saka then doubled the lead with a well-taken strike, his eighth of the campaign, as the home fans burst into a chorus of their take on Status Quo’s ‘Rocking All Over The World’.
With the lyrics altered to hail Saka and Smith Rowe, the latter spoke of the feeling of having his name – as well as that of his close friend – echo around the stadium.
Here we goooo… 🎶 pic.twitter.com/rtImZrSZjH
— Emile Smith Rowe (@emilesmithrowe) February 19, 2022
“It’s a bit surreal to be honest,” he told Arsenal Media.
“Me and Bukayo have both come from the academy, Eddie (Nketiah) as well.
“To hear the fans screaming our names and scoring together, it’s just been great.
“I’m buzzing. The goals are really starting to come now but the most important thing was the three points.”
Smith Rowe’s goal also saw him become the first Arsenal academy star to reach double figures in a season since Cesc Fabregas hit 19 in the 2009-10 season.
“That’s really special to hear that,” added Smith Rowe.
“That means a lot, you know. It’s always been a dream to play for Arsenal so to hear that, it means a lot.”
The win leaves Arsenal sixth in the table but Mikel Arteta’s side have at least two games in hand on all the clubs above them, with Wolves the visitors on Thursday night.
For Brentford, this was a seventh defeat in their last eight games in all competitions as their stuttering form threatens to seem them dragged into the relegation battle.
The Bees are now six points clear of Watford, who currently occupy 18th place, and defender Rico Henry knows improvements are needed ahead of a big game at home to Newcastle next week.
All over at The Emirates
🔴 2-1 🐝#ARSBRE #BrentfordFC pic.twitter.com/Ubb28BcHgS
— Brentford FC (@BrentfordFC) February 19, 2022
“It was a difficult one to take,” he said.
“Overall we weren’t good enough. It is difficult when they keep the ball so well, we need to be better.
“We are just going to analyse it in training on Monday and we need to bounce back as soon as possible.”