Mikel Arteta made seven changes to the side that beat West Brom the previous weekend, with Smith Rowe one of the players rested.
The Gunners’ much-changed side struggled to break a stubborn Newcastle defence down, and Andy Carroll spurned multiple chances to win the game for the Magpies in the latter stages of normal time.
It was substitutes Smith Rowe, Bukayo Saka and Alexandre Lacazette that went on to have the decisive impact as the clash at the Emirates headed into extra-time.
Smith Rowe drilled home Lacazette’s flick-on before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s simple finish sealed Arsenal’s place in the fourth round of the FA Cup.
20-year-old Smith Rowe has been crucial in Arteta’s side’s revival in recent weeks with the attacking midfielder providing the creative spark that had been missing for the vast majority of the season.
If the Gunners academy graduate were to be sidelined for any period, Wright feels the team would find it difficult again to link midfield and attack.
‘You’re looking at Emile Smith Rowe and his emergence in the space of three games.
‘Honestly, his emergence in three games already says to me we’re going to struggle if he’s not involved in the link-up between midfield and striker.
‘It was appropriate that he was the one who scored that goal when Lacazette came onto the field.
‘We should’ve lost that game, Andy Carroll’s two chances were guilt-edged.’
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