Tierney out – Who should be Arsenal’s left back on Thursday?

I accused Arsenal in January of prioritising saving money over what was best for the team. Despite our worst start to the League in decades, instead of improving the squad we slashed the wage bill by loaning out talent or even ripping up contracts.

Many Gooners questioned at the time the decision to allow both Kolasinac and Maitland Niles to leave. Not perhaps based on their ability but with Tierney’s history (even at Celtic) of picking up niggling injuries.

As it turns out the Scottish international could be out for the season and even Euro 2020.

It’s left us so short at left back that Mikel Arteta felt obliged to use Xhaka in the role yesterday because he didn’t want to risk an injury to Cedric, with Thursday in mind. Cedric himself would prefer to play on the other side.

Not having a natural left back on standby is a small decision made in the last window which could prove costly. While a makeshift full back can get you over the line against a Sheffield United, will it win you the Europa League?

My suggestion for midweek (this is without knowing the condition of Saka) is play him at wing back, something he originally did when he broke into the first team. To make this an attacking option I would choose a 3-5 2 formation with the bonus of Slavia Prague maybe caught out by fresh tactics.

With three centre backs (Holding, Mari, and Chambers who can play the Luiz role) and 2 DM (Xhaka and Partey), I can have three in front who can win us the tie (Lacazette, Aubameyang and Martinelli).

With technically 5 defensive individuals and the assumption we will have most possession, Saka and Bellerin can support the attack when possible.

That would be making a positive out of a negative situation. Instead of worrying what someone can’t do as a makeshift left back let’s focus on what Saka can add to the role.

By the time you read this it might be confirmed whether Saka is available for the second leg. If he’s not, then it’s just as well stick to the current system.

Without Saka, our options to replace Tierney consist of two right backs (Cedric and Bellerin) or a midfielder (Xhaka).

We knew at the time that Tierney wasn’t reliable in term of his fitness, yet left ourselves short in that position. Just to save money.

That though sums up how Stan Kroenke runs the club. Other owners invest in the short term to make a greater return in the future. By cutting costs in January, it could mean missing out on a bigger total in May.

Who should be our left back without Tierney?


Be Kinds In The Comments


Tags Chambers Saka Xhaka


  1. Our weird line-up in Sheffield could be a surprise for Slavia Prague, but our wing attacks would be dull because of Xhaka in LB and Chambers in RB

    I prefer Saka in LB and Ceballos in CAM. But they must be fully fit, otherwise better field healthier players

    1. What is weird in our lineup
      Did laca play cb or did partey play as inverted left footed right winger
      Apart from Xhaka deputing for injured Tierney what is weird
      Or do you mean 433 is a weird formation

      1. It was just weird to see Xhaka in LB, Ceballos in LM and Saka in RM, with the midfield pushed towards the left side. Using an asymmetrical 4-3-3 is very smart because Sheffield got confused and it was a bold move

        However, the players aren’t familiar with their new roles, hence we could only produce one big chance in the first 35 minutes. Luckily Sheffield weren’t as motivated as us, but Slavia Prague’s defense will be tougher to split

        1. Xhaka even played in cb and lb for Emery so nothing new
          Ceballos main position is cm nothing new
          Xaka have also played cm before yesterday so nothing new
          I don’t understand what is weird in any of this

          1. Xhaka very rarely plays in LB and Ceballos mostly played on the left wing yesterday. Whereas Saka was always moving between RM and CAM

            Most of these stuff never happened before

  2. Xhaka did well yesterday, but wasn’t quite challenged. Honestly, I’m scared to death Xhaka vs. wingers as he is not good at duels..

    Maybe play Cedric if he’s fit at LB against Prague?

    ———— Leno
    Bellerin – Holding – Mari – Cedric
    ——— Partey – Xhaka
    Pepe – Ceballos – Saka
    ——– Lacazette

    If Saka is unfit, maybe play Auba or Willian as I expect ESR and Ödegaard will not be available..

      1. @Kedar,

        Sorry mate, I completely forgot about him already 😀

        Pepe – Ceballos – Martinelli should be good!

        1. You ACTUALLY forgot? About Martinelli , our wonderful exciting young player? REAL Gooners do not forget our own available players, IMO.

          1. @jon fox,

            Well he’s been stuck on the bench for so long, who could remember him! And remember, only the Sith deal in absolutes!



        2. I’ll got for 4,4,2 system,,
          Cedric, holding,mari,saka



  3. Lacazette.

    Martinelli. Saka. Pepe.

    Xhaka. Partey.

    Cedric. Gabriel. Holding. Bellerin.


    Subs – Aubameyang, Ceballos, Elneny, Willian, Chambers.

  4. One option, is a return of the back three, Saka at LWB. It’s easy to forget, but his best run of form at Arsenal was when he was in that position. For the Slavia game:

    ………Holding Mari Gabriel
    ….Cedric Partey Xhaka Saka
    ……………….Pepe ESR

  5. Easy call really. Saka should not be forced back into lb or wb. Cedric has done a good job on the left for us more than once now.

    ———— Leno
    Bellerin – Holding – Mari – Cedric
    ——— Partey – Xhaka
    Pepe – Saka – martinelli
    ——– Lacazette

    I think auba needs some time out atm. I am not sure what is going on with him weather it is he just needs to get his head straight or what. One of the things arsenal have become bad at is giving players too much singular Importance. Lets give auba a reality check/rest and let other players who actually play well showcase their talent.

    Lacca played well yesterday. I am not his biggest fan but the guy deserves to starts

    Pepe again on of the goals we go was due to his jumping on poor passing and taking a opportunity. Infact I think he has been most harshly done by and really saved arteta off the bench a few times as well as when starting.

    Martinelli. Got his goal after a long time out. The kid mad us look like an offensive team. I think there is still a touch of sharpness to get him back to.hos best but key him start and swap him for auba if needed

    Cellbellos – can we send him back tk Madrid now. Dont care of he got an assist i dont think henis good enough and saka should start in CAM

  6. Xhaka played well at left back yesterday giving Saka the freedom to be all over the pitch. Chambers at right back with Holding and Mari at CB defence sorted. Cedric at left back would also be a good shout imho.

    1. IMO Xhaka played well at LB yesterday because there was no one behind him except Leno which meant he had only one option to play the ball Back to so he had to make some forward passes, which must have been hard for him to do but now he has got used to passing forward he might continue to do so.(here’s hoping but I wont be holding my breath!!!)

  7. We may miss Saka due to injury but if he is available then I agree with your Formation of 3-4-3 with Saka, Bellerin, Martinelli, Lacazzett and Pepe and join attack together with Partey and Xhaka as Double Pivot..
    But only Problem with this formation is you don’t Have creativity through centre of the field..
    All attack could be from wings and for that you need Target Man like Giroud, Torres, Benzema, Mbappe
    Liverpool also play majorly through wings but they have wingers like Salah, Mane, Jota who can beat their man and burst forward…
    Also their full backs have highest quality of Crossing ability..
    Unfortunately we only have Martinelli and Saka who can beat their man or May be 2 or 3 opponent at times.. Pepe is useless in one on one situation… He can’t dribble and get past him man…He likes to do unsuccessful tricks and turns which never hurt opponents… His loose controls sometimes very frustrating…
    And in this scenario we can’t play Saka as LB because his role will be limited up to wings and crossing and we don’t have target man who can meet those crosses

  8. The bigger question for me is who is going to replace him in the long term ,nearly 40 games missed since we signed him in 2019 and there was rumours going round before hand that he was injury prone which now look spot on .
    As much has he looks great going forward his defending is suspect on occasions so me a solid left back option to come in in the summer to keep him on his toes or if once again we lose him to other injury we have a decent back up .

    1. I completely agree, I am glad some one else has spotted the same thing. Tierney does struggle a bit when he is faced with good opposition players and he is not that solid of defender as some make him to be. But saying that he has two things in his favour he works hard, has the talent and has the age on his side as well to develop into a beast of a LB. I won’t read too much into injuries as they have been new which came from accidents on the pitch rather than mascular ones that occur again and again for some players like rosicky or diabi. We should not worry about his injuries as long as they are not pulled up muscles related.

      1. For someone named “Logic” I find it odd that you do not worry about injuries, provided they are not muscle pulls.

        ALL injuries mean we are without a key player, no matter what the injury is. I SUGGEST CHANGING YOUR PROFILE TO “ILLOGICAL.” My logic is that Tierney has already proven injury prone, irrespective of muscle pulls.

  9. How about we stick with same team that played against Sheifield, we played well and I think everyone executed the plan to perfection. So why drop anyone and penalize them. Let’s stick with same team if Saka can not make it (hopefully he will) than bring Cedric in move Xhaka along side Partey and play Cebollos in Saka role (I won’t hold my breath when it comes to Cebollos, he plays well in one game than goes dormant for month).

  10. For me, Xhaka has a way of playing well when deployed to the defence.. He suddenly becomes careful and calculative with decisions.. He played CB last season at Stamford Bridge and was arguably one of the best on the pitch..
    I would prefer he continues there for now.. As he won’t overlap but play forward passes to avoid being caught out by pacey wingers.. But martinelli needs to be ahead of him to press and keep the opposition at bay..

    Chambers is doing a pretty good job as well at RB..

    1. I agree! For the time being, Xhaka , dreadful as he is in his own position , is perhaps the most suitable proper left footed deputy for Tierney, given that we need SAKA(if fit) further forward. Soares does not work on the left, though I’d happily play him or Chambers at RB . Bellerin I’d sell today were it possible!

  11. We played well yesterday but I think our opponents were really weak,
    Xhaka did well but had little or no threats, against Slavia it’s sure gonna be tougher, I would prefer a more attacking team to help relieve our defense.
    ………Holding Mari Gabriel
    ….Cedric Partey Xhaka/ESR Saka
    ……………….Pepe Martinelli

  12. The back 5 that started yesterday was solid

    but the blades were totally off it if we are being honest here, they were there to be beaten, they are just waiting for their championship season to start.

    What i did like yesterday was the interplay between Saka, Pepe, Chambers and Cebellos, their movement was quality and i also have to say that, that was the best we have seen DC play in 2 seasons imho, just a shame its with so few games remaining – seems like this happened last year aswel?????

    I’m not taking anything away from our performance as you can only beat what is infront of you, but with all that said Slavia are a totally different opposition and are in a different position.

    They will be hard to beat and we will need to up our game even more to go through.

    Martinelli i dont think will start on thursday as he was struggling with that ankle twist.

  13. Before the Slavia match last week I suggested the following side and nothing has happened to make me change my mind
    Chambers, Holding, Mari,
    Cedric, Partey, Xhaka,Saka,
    ESR, Laca, Martinelli.

    1. Three VERY pedestrian CB’s Grandad. I’d play Gabriel who is far quicker than them all. I realise you don’t rate him but I differ from you on him.

  14. I remember 2006, and I believe the old ones on here also do, when we reached Champions league final with a makeshift left back in form of Mathieu Flamini. Flamini became our reliable left back for nearly all the games that season as Ashley Cole was out injured for a very long time. It wouldn’t surprise me if a similar scenario happens.

    1. Love how we keep.a clean sheet against a team with 14 points and that now qualifies Xakha as being our left back

    2. I had to laugh at your “old ones” comment as recently as 2006. Us REAL oldies go back half a century further than that!

  15. Lack of pace is a problem throughout is a problem as you say Jon, it’s just that I feel Gabriel is not in a good place just now and tends to panic whereas Mari is more calm on the ball.I suggested the back three set up to bring some balance to the team with Saka at wing back, but I know his future lies in attack.Our failure to have a natural left footed LB to support Tierney may well come back to haunt us but hopefully we can still ease through on Thursday.

  16. Xhaka is not fit to be an Arsenal player, especially a midfielder. He is limited in his ability to be our engine. Firstly he cannot mark, cant jump to win heading duels, he is slow and lazy, cannot play one twos, and does not know what to do with the ball before and after receiving a pass. 👎🏾👎🏾👎🏾

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