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Emile Smith Rowe’s gesture after Arsenal goal against club who tried to sign him

Emile Smith Rowe capped a brilliant counter-attack to increase Arsenal’s lead in a dominant Premier League victory over Aston Villa, who pursued him during the summer transfer window

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In pictures: Arsenal v Aston Villa

Emile Smith Rowe delivered an emphatic signal of his dedication to Arsenal after scoring against Aston Villa in a convincing Premier League victory.

Smith Rowe, 21, assisted Thomas Partey’s opening goal with a corner and got on the scoresheet himself early in the second half, following Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s rebound from a penalty.

The England Under-21 international combined with Aubameyang on the counter-attack and saw his shot deflect beyond Emiliano Martinez to set Arsenal on course for victory, although Jacob Ramsey pulled a goal back for Villa late on.

It was another fine performance from Smith Rowe, who is enjoying the responsibility of the No.10 shirt having signed a new long-term contract at the Emirates this summer.

The Hale End academy graduate penned his new deal to end strong transfer links with Villa, who were looking to replace Jack Grealish after his £100million transfer to Manchester City.

Has Emile Smith Rowe been Arsenal’s best player this season? Have your say in the comments.

Emile Smith Rowe grabbed the Arsenal badge and stared into the camera after scoring

Smith Rowe has been on Arsenal’s books since the age of 10 and he spoke of his desire to retire with the north London club earlier this week.

“If Arsenal want me, I’m going to stay here forever,” he told Mundial . “It’s always difficult, but for me personally, I’d love to be here forever.”

Smith Rowe’s affection for his boyhood side was apparent for all to see as he grabbed the badge on his shirt and stared directly into the camera during wholehearted celebrations following his goal.

Smith Rowe was later named man of the match for his goal, assist and all-round brilliant performance, leading to a comical moment with the Sky Sports crew after the full-time whistle.

Presenter Kelly Cates pointed out that Jamie Carragher had asked the player to “add more goals to his game” ahead of the match, adding: “That’s one way to answer him.”

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Smith Rowe responded: “Definitely man, it gave me the belief today.”

Carragher then chimed in by asking: “Do I get an assist for that?”

“Yeah, I’ll give you the assist for that,” responded the Thornton Heath native. “But, honestly, I’ve been working so hard in training and stuff.

“I feel you need that luck sometimes, it was a bit of a deflection but I’ll take it.”

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Emile Smith Rowe has scored two goals and registered two assists in the Premier League this season

Meanwhile, co-pundit Gary Neville hailed Arsenal for registering a “really important” victory to extend their unbeaten run in the Premier League to six games and rise to ninth in the table.

“There was some pressure on them and they delivered,” said Neville. “First half they were absolutely fantastic and played a brilliant game.

“Second half they did enough, it was always going to be more difficult in the second half because Villa were really poor first half and couldn’t work the game out at all.”

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