A relieved Emile Smith Rowe felt Arsenal showed their newfound togetherness after needing extra time to see off Newcastle United in the FA Cup.
The Gunners had to go the distance as they began their defence of the trophy, with in-form midfielder Smith Rowe finding the breakthrough in the 109th minute before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang tucked home Kieran Tierney’s cross from close range.
It could have been a very different story for Smith Rowe, however, who was shown a red card for his challenge on Sean Longstaff during stoppage time after the initial 90 minutes, only for referee Chris Kavanagh to downgrade his decision to a booking after consulting the pitchside monitor.
“I was really happy, a bit of a relief for me with the incident before – it definitely wasn’t intentional – happy to get the goal and get through to the next round,” the 20-year-old told BBC Sport.
“We knew how tough it was going to be, they’re a tough opponent. It was about breaking them down.”
We felt that celebration.
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) January 9, 2021
Mikel Arteta’s decision to bring Smith Rowe into his Premier League starting line-up sparked a three-game winning run, beginning with the 3-1 Boxing Day triumph against Chelsea.
And, with the game deadlocked, Arteta turned to the bench and his increasingly influential playmaker.
“From a young kid I have always wanted to play for this club, I am really happy,” Smith Rowe added.
“It shows how together we are, we have been working off the pitch to get closer as a group and it shows.”