Is Kieran Tierney simply not going to fit into Arsenal’s new tactical set up?

For days, there have been rumours that Arsenal may let Kieran Tierney depart this summer. Many people believe that the Scottish titan is unable to bench Zinchenko, but is this enough of a reason? So why can’t Arteta retain Tierney as a backup for Zinchenko?

According to Football London’s Kaya Kaynak, the 25-year-old can’t stay at Arsenal because Arteta has allegedly moved on from depending on the sort of fullback Tierney is. Tierney is that old-fashioned midfielder who plays through the flanks; he is that type of fullback who receives the ball and sprints through the flank to feed it to the attack. Arteta’s style seems to have outgrown that type of play, as Kaynak tells Give Me Sport: “I think he’s a very good player, and I think he’ll be rightly frustrated at the lack of game time he’s got this season. But, you look at the way Arsenal are evolving as a team. They do seem to be evolving away from him tactically.

“If you look at the kind of player Zinchenko is compared to the kind of player Tierney is, that seems to suggest that Arsenal are going more for that inverted full-back rather than the traditional overlapping full-back that Tierney is.

“He responded well earlier in the season when Takehiro Tomiyasu came in at left-back when Zinchenko was injured. Obviously, that would have been frustrating for him.”

Certainly, many of us would prefer Tierney to stay, but it is sometimes necessary to sacrifice one lamb for the greater good. If the 2019 Arsenal recruit can add £30 million to Arteta’s summer transfer kitty, it will go a long way towards helping him generate enough funds for important deals that will propel Arsenal to the next level for the assault on next season’s Champions League.


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  1. Tierney will not be with Arsenal next season .A number of Clubs who do not deploy the “inverted” full back system will be after Tierney who will probably sell for around 35m.What interests me is who Arteta will bring in to back up Zinchenko as Tavares clearly does not have the ball skills nor the football intelligence required to fulfil the quasi midfield role which is used only by Man City and Arsenal of all the EPL Clubs.I have heard the young Chelsea player Colvile being mentioned in despatches but I was under the impression that he was another left sided centre back ?

    1. I think this Fresneda chap fits the bill. Right footed but we saw how well Cancelo has done there over the years. No doubt Edu and the boss have a few plans up their sleeves.

  2. Kaya is speculating on this and I think he’s wrong. We need Tierney to give a different style when needed and I think Arteta wants him too. Surely if we can’t change things around mid game, if necessary, then we become somewhat one dimensional and predictable. If I’m wrong and Tierney does go then surely Tomiyasu will be the backup for both left and right back as he has shown is more than capable in both positions, he’s two footed and 6’-2” tall and also able to fill in at CB too.
    Tavares is good going forward but seems poor when defending and I don’t understand why the speculation is around for Fresneda, he’s a pure right footed right back and we already have an excellent right back in White.

  3. Tierney seems to have improved his understanding of the inverted LB role in his cameos, probably because he played as LCB for Scotland

    It’d be difficult to find a high-quality LB like him. I believe Arteta will try to keep him next season, unless Arsenal manage to find a better competitor for Zinchenko

    There will be a time when our inverted LB tactic gets broken by other teams. We might have to revert to our old attacking LB tactic in the future, because of the tactical dynamics

  4. As the article rightly pointed out,as a team we have tactically evolved but we also need a different type of a LB.if it were up to me, I’d keep KT, there’ll be plenty of games for him to play next season.i believe that KT has earned the right to decide his next move(Newcastle?).if he wants to go, we’ll definitely get a decent fee for him which could partially be used to buy another young inverted LB,win win situation for both parties.

  5. Tierney is the better defender and offers something different tactically. He is a proven player, and showed to be one of the best LB in the PL in his first years with Arsenal.

    Why sell him, and bring in an unknown quantity? Tavares is the one who doesn’t fit, and we will profit on his sale.

    With all the competitons next year there will be time for many bench players to get game time.

    We need the competition for positions and starts, I say keep him and rotate the squad.

    1. I agree but about KT?you need to take into account what he wants, don’t you think/agree?

  6. It looks like Zinchenko is also being used for his experience, as he has been involved in numerous title challenges at Man City. You can see him encouraging others on the pitch, even when he got the equalizer against Villa, there was no celebration, as he wanted the win and he made that clear to team and fans. I would not like to see KT leave, and hopefully they can find a system that suits both.

  7. £ 50M + is the only figure I can see AFC selling him for. £ 30M for him is a bargain for the buying club.

  8. It will be incredibly disappointing to lose Tierney, but he doesn’t fit into this style of play. So unless Arteta plans to adapt his formation and tactics to accommodate him, and if he was going to then he would have already, then he is surplus to requirements and simply too good of a player to just sit on the bench. He does of course provide an excellent alternative but I don’t see Arteta adapting or changing his game plan regardless of the in-game situation, an unfortunate hangover from the Wenger days. We saw this against Bournemouth and we’re fortunate to get away with it but I’m sure this is something Arteta will learn the further into his management career he gets. Personally, I think Tierney playing as the left side of a back 3 or as the rampaging wingback in that formation is the only way he gets into the team.

  9. It’s up to Tierney if he wants to play second fiddle to Zinchenko. He may want to fight for his position, or he may want to move on and play first team football, and no one can deny the lad of that. He also has his international career to think about. Way OFF TOPIC: The Football Association are investigating Arsenal’s after match celebrations at the Emirates after the Bournemouth match. That’s very strange considering the Premier League posted the celebrations on their Web Site and various Social Media outlets as a promotion to the Premier League. I wonder if the Football Association are going to investigate Fernandes of Manchester United for man handling a linesman, as well as his diving antics. I think they class that as bringing the game into disrepute

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