Darren Bent claims he would start 23-year-old Arsenal star over Kai Havertz ‘every single day of the week’


Former England striker Darren Bent has made a bold assertion that he would play 23-year-old Arsenal midfielder Emile Smith Rowe over Kai Havertz, ‘every single day of the week’.

Bent’s statement comes on the heels of Smith Rowe’s stunning performance in Arsenal’s 1-0 Carabao Cup win against Brentford. This match marked his first start for the team in 499 days.

While Smith Rowe dazzled on the pitch, fans may have their hopes dashed by manager Mikel Arteta’s comments that the young midfielder is not yet back to full fitness. Smith Rowe was subbed off at the 68-minute mark in the Brentford game, despite a brilliant performance that marked his 100th appearance for the Gunners.

It’s worth noting that Kai Havertz, who was signed by Arsenal in June 2023 for a colossal sum of £65 million, has failed to meet high expectations under Arteta’s management. He is notably yet to score or assist in eight games across all competitions, yet the manager has opted to use him, rather than Emile Smith Rowe.

Given these circumstances, Bent expressed his frustration with Arteta during a TalkSPORT interview, challenging the manager’s decisions:

“It actually quite annoyed me when he said that. Yeah, it’s up to Emile Smith Rowe to prove he can play at this level. What? It’s almost like Arteta’s got a bit of a short memory. Listen, you know, I love Arteta as manager, but it’s back to the 21-22 season. I think it was where his job was on the line. He was struggling a bit, Arteta. And who were the two that carried him through? Saka and Smith Rowe.”

Bent found it “crazy” that Arteta would question Smith Rowe’s ability to perform at this level, especially given his proven track record:

“He got 10 Premier League goals that season. Then the following season, he had a bit of an injury, and he’s been injury hit ever since. But to question if he can play at this level, that’s just crazy! Because for me, if you’re asking me: Would I rather play Kai Havertz or Emile Smith Rowe? Emile Smith Rowe every day of the week.”

Meanwhile, Smith Rowe’s journey has been somewhat inspirational, punctuated by awe-inspiring performances since his professional debut for the Gunners in 2018. Despite his injury struggles, he has consistently earned the adoration of fans and seems poised to play a crucial role in the club’s future.

Arsenal’s board and Mikel Arteta rally behind underperforming Kai Havertz

Football journalist Fabrizio Romano recently divulged insights into the internal sentiments at Arsenal concerning Kai Havertz. Notably, the German midfielder has failed to make his mark since his high-profile transfer to the club.

However, according to Romano (via TBR Football), both Arsenal’s board and manager have not wavered in their confidence in him, despite the player’s underwhelming start.

“Of course, it was not an easy beginning of the season for the player, but the message coming from the club and the coaching staff, those close to Mikel Arteta and those close to the board, is that they will protect Kai Havertz.”

Havertz, who transferred from Chelsea in June 2023 for a reported £65 million, has faced increasing scrutiny from fans for his lack of contributions on the pitch. He is yet to register either a goal or an assist since joining the north London club, sparking rising discontent among the fans.

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Edited by Akshay Saraswat
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