Arsenal will take on Slavia Prague this evening in the Europa League, but will do so without Kieran Tierney.
The Scottish left-back started against Liverpool at the weekend, but he had to be withdrawn before the break and is now set to miss out on the next four to six weeks of action according to Arsenal.com.
This could mean that he could well be in contention to return in time for the Europa League final, should we manage to qualify, but our chances of doing so have taken a blow by his absence.
The manager has moved to admit that his particular skillset is not easily replaced, and that the possible alternatives to play in his position will not
Arteta said in his pre-match press conference (via Arsenal.com)”We’re going to have to make some adjustments because his qualities are unique and we don’t have anybody with his qualities within the squad unless we start to move a lot of pieces.
“Without any time to train, it is a little bit dangerous to do. But we’re going to have to find different ways to fulfil that gap and use other things that can be as effective as well.
Arteta was then asked if he was considering using Bukayo Saka as an alternative, to which he replied: “That’s the reality. You have to change something and you have to find a different way of attacking. At the same time, the structure when you are defending and in transitional moments has to be stable and has to be done by players that are comfortable doing that. We knew that position was a weakness around the squad, because we didn’t have anybody to replace Kieran, and we have to find different solutions.”
Saka has already proved to be an exceptional option at left-back or left wing-back in his short time within the senior side, but I can’t help but see that as a big loss to our front line.
I agree that he would be our best option to play in the role, but I hope that if he is dropped back into the role that Martin Odegaard can prove fit enough to start also.
Should Arteta drop Saka into the LB role again?
The absence of a natural back up for Tierney may cost us dearly.It does not say much for our planning having shipped out Kolasinac .As the old adage explains, “to fail to prepare, is to prepare to fail”.As for finding a solution, I have given my team selection in an earlier article.To me reverting to a 3-4-3 system is the most practical way to play without Tierney, with Saka being used as a left wingback.
I agree with Saka as left back.
I think the 3-4-3 is a good idea as we can’t afford to lose too much of Saka going forward.
As for Tierney – I really worry that we are going to need a really strong fullback to back him up, based on his record I don’t think we can expect consistent runs of games.
I do wish that AMN would really commit to the fullback position to see what he can do if he is all in – he has had some pretty decent games as is.