Several summer signings have already made an impact at their new clubs, with the likes of Sebastian Haller, Daniel James, and Tyrone Mings already more than proving their worth in the Premier League this season, while Chelsea’s returning youngster Mason Mount almost represents a brand new recruit for the Blues. Other recent arrivals meanwhile have found it slightly more difficult to settle in, with Newcastle’s Joelinton and Everton’s Moise Kean just two names among a long list of players requiring a little more time to find their feet. One man, however, is being forced to wait that extra bit longer to taste the action in English football, but new Arsenal recruit Kieran Tierney will undoubtedly be worth the wait.
The left back was brought in from Scottish champions Celtic for £25m after a long, drawn-out pursuit but, unfortunately for Unai Emery, Tierney’s long-awaited debut still remains weeks away due to surgery on a double hernia injury that has frustrated him for the majority of the year.
New arrivals Nicolas Pepe and Dani Ceballos have been enjoying life at the club, with the Spaniard perhaps making the biggest impression so far thanks to his display in the 2-1 victory over Burnley, with the Ivorian winger also showcasing his endless talent in recent weeks. But despite his efforts and the continuous goalscoring exploits of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – who now has 35 goals in 53 league appearances for the club – Arsenal are still suffering from issues at the back. Emery’s side conceded 51 goals last term, behind only Man United and West Ham for clubs in the top ten, and continue to look shaky at the back this season, with the David Luiz risk seemingly not paying dividends in defence thus far.
And that’s where Kieran Tierney comes in. The young defender helped Celtic to 13 clean sheets in his 21 games in an injury-hit final season, managing an average of 1.7 tackles per game, with an average of 2.2 interceptions and 2.5 clearances per game. Despite only celebrating his 22nd birthday in June, the full-back brings with him a wealth of experience, with four Scottish league titles, three Scottish Cups and three Scottish League Cups, as well as being the only player to be named the Scottish PFA Young Player of the Year on three occasions.
However, perhaps more importantly for Emery, Tierney has experience in an array of positions across the back four, having played for his former club on several occasions as a left-back and centre-back, as well as finding himself at centre-back and right-back for the Scotland national team in numerous crucial games. Much like the Glasgow outfit, the Arsenal boss often opts to experiment with his tactics and more specifically his formations – be it with a back four or back three/five – meaning his new defender will be more than comfortable with whatever option his new boss decides to adopt.
Moreover, the former Celtic star has also pulled on the captain’s armband for the Scotland national team and has learned the ropes from his new Premier League rival Andy Robertson, the ideal mentor for a very similar player in terms of technique, attitude, and passion. The Liverpool man has more than likely taught him well, and it wouldn’t be inconceivable to see an identical situation of the rapid rise of a promising left-back in north London as we have seen on Merseyside in recent years.
The Isle of Man-born youngster will not only provide the Gunners with defensive stability but will look to stay as high and wide for as long as possible, demonstrated through his average of 1.0 successful cross per90 mins-ratio last season, along with over 1.5 key passes and 1.2 dribbles completed. Current Arsenal man Sead Kolasinac incredibly averaged more touches in the opposition box than Aubameyang in early January last season thanks to his 4.4 per 90 minutes to the striker’s 4.1, but don’t be surprised if his new teammate Tierney goes one step further.
With Nacho Monreal making the permanent switch to La Liga with Real Sociedad, coupled with Arsenal’s defensive frailties – already with the joint-second most goals conceded in the top ten – Tierney will have a huge role to play, and one which will not phase the left-back by any means.
Having turned out for Celtic time after time in their constant domestic and European journeys, the young full-back will be more than used to battling it out with the very best on a regular basis, which will give the club a huge boost as they head into a Europa League group with Frankfurt, Standard Liege and Portuguese outfit Vitoria SC, on top of challenging for a top-four spot in another competitive Premier League campaign.
It was a long summer for Tierney, and it looks set to be a long winter too, with the devastating impact on his old Scottish side not to be forgotten. Arsenal’s gain will undoubtedly equal Celtic’s loss, with Neil Lennon’s side having already lost their Champions League status at the hands of CFR Cluj in the qualifying rounds last month. The Bhoys have lost one of their own, but the Gunners have secured one of the best in the business.
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Feature Image via Standard.co.uk