Ian Wright has been proven right about Kieran Tierney following his Arsenal absence
Arsenal suffered a second consecutive Premier League defeat on Saturday, going down 1-0 at the hands of Aston Villa at Villa Park.
Ollie Watkins netted the only goal of the game after just 75 seconds to seal all three points for the home side and leave Mikel Arteta and his players to reflect on a second consecutive defeat in the Midlands in just a matter of days, following on from the 2-1 reverse to Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux last Tuesday evening.
Villa, who have taken six points off the Gunners this season, were gifted the winner when speedy winger Bertrand Traore pounced on a mix-up between Gabriel Magalhaes and Cedric Soares and cut the ball back into the penalty area for Watkins to fire the ball home.
In truth, had it not been for Cedric’s under-hit pass towards Gabriel, Arsenal may have taken something from the contest.
That moment proved just how big a miss left-back Kieran Tierney is, with Portuguese star Cedric currently filling in at left-back in his absence. Arsenal were desperate to add a new left-back to their ranks before last Monday’s transfer deadline but they were unsuccessful in their efforts, despite being linked with the likes of Crystal Palace ace Patrick van Aanholt and Ryan Bertrand of Southampton.
Fortunately for Arsenal, though, Tierney is in with a chance of returning for Sunday’s clash against Leeds United at the Emirates Stadium. The Scotland international has missed the last five matches but would have returned against Villa if it wasn’t for a problem with his upper leg.
But the defender has been training at London Colney ahead of Sunday, suggesting he could return and slot straight in at left-back, just in time to deal with the threat Leeds winger Raphinha will pose.
However, Tierney’s recent absence has proven how big a loss he is to this Arsenal team when he is not there. Of the five games he has missed, the Gunners have won just once, losing three.
With that in mind, it has proven that former Arsenal striker Ian Wright was bang on the money when highlighting Tierney’s importance to Arteta’s team following the goalless draw with Crystal Palace last month.
Wright admitted that Tierney made “such a difference” to the team with the attacking quality he offers from left-back.
“One player does make such a difference and I think it’s a bit of a worry because you take him out the team and that side doesn’t function,” said Wright, as quoted by The Mirror last month. “And when we are talking about the way Kieran Tierney gets up and down, and we are talking about for the full 90 minutes, he never stops and this is why.
“You look at someone like [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang today, didn’t quite get the chances he normally gets because Kieran Tierney is normally flashing things in and around the box.
It didn’t happen today really on either side with the same amount of crosses when Kieran Tierney is playing. It has to come from somewhere else.”
Tierney’s importance to this Gunners team has been highlighted this season, with him proving to be a constant threat when bombing forward from left-back.
In total, the former Celtic man has scored one goal and claimed two assists in the Premier League this season, but his attacking threat is far greater to the Gunners than what his statistics suggest.