Mikel Arteta seems to make Arsenal U-turn despite “outstanding” Sir Alex Ferguson affirmation

Mikel Arteta seems to make Arsenal U-turn despite “outstanding” Sir Alex Ferguson affirmation

As Mikel Arteta continues to recruit new players for Arsenal, his predecessors’ acquisitions are becoming surplus to requirements.

Granit Xhaka’s departure in the summer has reduced the number of Arsene Wenger signings in the squad, while Nicolas Pepe, who was acquired by Unai Emery for a club-record fee, appears to have no future in North London.

A week after Pepe’s arrival from Lille, Arsenal acquired Kieran Tierney from Celtic for £25 million. Tierney was a Scottish left-back. 

Former Scotland manager Sir Alex Ferguson echoed Arteta’s praise for the defender, but Tierney’s significance to his team is beginning to diminish.

Tierney stated (via The Athletic) regarding his future after playing in Arsenal’s preseason loss to Manchester United, “It’s not really up to me.” “I’m content; I work diligently every day and earn minutes. I’m attempting to perform as well as possible.”

The Scotland international acknowledged that he had not discussed his future with Arteta, but the Gunners’ transfer activity appears to limit his options. Tierney was limited to just three league appearances after the World Cup break due to Oleksandr Zinchenko’s first-team status at Arsenal.

January signatures Jakub Kiwior is also an option at left-back, although the Pole is most at ease in the middle, and Takehiro Tomiyasu can switch positions with Jurrien Timber competing with Ben White for the right-back position. 

And while Tierney acknowledged the competition for positions, Arteta appears prepared to continue forward without the 26-year-old.

“You can’t play every single game, every single season, every single year,” Tierney continued. 

“I do not anticipate that, and I still made numerous appearances last year. I was prepared for every contest and giving my absolute best effort. I believe everyone in the room would agree that I never give less, regardless of whether I’m playing or not.

“During the games I did participate, I gave my all for the team. Last season, I came off the bench frequently, whether to help finish contests or score a goal.

Despite the fact that Arteta still acknowledges Tierney’s talent, circumstances have shifted since 2021. In those days, when healthy, the defender was a regular starter, and Ferguson shared Arteta’s optimism.

“I believe Scotland has some very talented midfielders, but I’m not sure how they’ll utilize Robertson and Tierney together,” he said. Tierney was occasionally used as a third central defender, but his form since joining Arsenal has been outstanding.

Arteta even implied that Tierney could become Arsenal captain in the future. At the time, Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang donned the captain’s armband, but Martin Odegaard, who was signed on loan in January 2021, ultimately succeeded the striker.

Arteta stated of Tierney, “Since the moment I joined the club, I have witnessed a player with tremendous talent and the ideal attitude and dedication.” “He is a pleasure to work with, and I am ecstatic for him for the manner in which he scored [against West Brom] and for everything he has done to be better every day for the team and the club.

“He has had some trouble adapting. We attempted to aid him. It was difficult for him to depart his home despite our efforts to assist him. He is timid and so modest. Arriving here took him some time. He was away from home and suffering from a severe injury, but he is a natural leader.

“You can observe his behavior on the field, and when he speaks, he says the appropriate things. And I am so happy to have him on the team because he is precisely what we’re looking for.”

It is not even a case of Tierney’s declining performance. Since the arrival of Zinchenko, he has remained dependable, even assisting to fill a left-back position that Arteta has modified since Zinchenko’s arrival.

He still appears to be a capable starter for a team contending for a top-four spot, as the Gunners were when he arrived, but the club has improved over the past year and the standard is now higher.

Now, the question is whether Tierney can consistently maintain this new level, and if he can’t, whether player and club are content with using him as a rotation option only. Arteta’s willingness to continue bolstering his backline suggests he may have decided it is time to move on.

Mikel Arteta seems to make Arsenal U-turn despite “outstanding” Sir Alex Ferguson affirmation