Kieran Tierney has been tormented with injuries since joining the Gunners in the summer. The former Celtic left-back left Scotland for a country record fee of £25 million but has yet to get a decent run of games.
In saying that, lockdown seems to have given the Scotland international time to recover.
Tierney put in a man-of-the-match display in Arsenal’s 2-1 win over Sheffield United in the FA Cup, setting up a semi-final against current holders Manchester City. And he played a blinder in that game with a key assist for Aubameyang to net his second and killer goal.
Of course, all the leading online sportsbooks in the UK had Arsenal as the outsiders, around the 8/1 (9.0) mark with the likes of bet365. However, with Tierney finding his feet, City were in for a tougher game than they expect.
The young Scottish International has taken time to settle in London but finally seems to be showing what he is capable of. Gunners boss Mikel Arteta has praised him since taking the reins and has always spoken of his admiration for the player. Arsenal fans are starting to see why.
Arsenal’s 2-1 win over Sheffield United was hardly a vintage performance, but Tierney was a shining light. His commitment going forward is comparable with Liverpool’s Andy Robertson, as is his desire to get back. The former Celtic player made a number of excellent runs and created four good goal scoring chances in the game. This included feeding the ball to Alexandre Lacazette before he was fouled for the penalty. Defensively he also performs well, rarely out of position and always putting attackers under pressure. Tierney stands at only 5 ft 10 in (1.78cm), so he’s hardly the tallest player in the box, but uses his height wisely. Furthermore, he’s not afraid to put in a challenge.
His pace and attitude on the left is something that has been missing at Arsenal and it’s exciting to see how the 23-year-old will progress. Under Mikel Arteta’s watchful eye, big things are expected of Tierney and he has been tipped to become the Arsenal captain someday.
At one point during his injury lay-off, questions were asked over his place in the squad. English youngster Bukayo Saka was given a run in the team at left-back while Tierney was side-lined and impressed. Many Arsenal fans were then wondering if Tierney was excess to requirements.
However, Arteta never really entertained the idea, least of all because Saka has said that left- wing is his preferred position. The rising star has filled the roll on the left midfield in recent games and it’s clear this is where he is more suited.
At 18 years old he is still a work in progress but showed he had the raw talent to become a star. The Gunners made it clear they want to hold on to their academy graduate and it has been announced that Saka has penned a new long-term contract.
Arsenal have been struggling in recent seasons and sitting 10th in the Premier League is certainly not good enough for a team this size. It’s encouraging to see young players coming through the ranks and having an impact. Record signing Nicholas Pepe has only just turned 25 and seems to be settling into life in England. He has shown glimpses of his talent which clearly justifies his price tag and we expect to see him improve as time goes on. Arteta appears to be giving him the freedom he requires, allowing Pepe to flaunt his skills.
Kieran Tierney is a great example of keeping the right mindset when times are tough. His years at Celtic have taught him how to play in a team where expectations are high, and Arteta will likely be looking to have the young Scot as one of the first names on his team sheet for years to come.