The Scottish international was integral to the way the Gunners attacked, creating more chances from open play than any of his teammates last campaign, so when he was missing the lack of an alternative bit hard.
Sead Kolasinac, Bukayo Saka, Cedric and Granit Xhaka all took turns at filling in for Tierney but none were able to replicate the attacking thrust down the left hand side. This was felt particularly keenly when the 24-year-old was absent for key matches such as the Europa League semi final first leg against Villarreal.
Arsenal’s summer business is starting to look more impressive by the game and perhaps their most under the radar acquisition of the summer is quickly emerging as one of their most important.
Signed for just £8million from Benfica in the summer, Nuno Tavares had hardly been seen in a Gunners shirt until last Friday’s Premier League clash with Aston Villa, when Tierney was ruled out late with a bruised ankle.
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After performing fantastically against Dean Smith’s side and backing that up with an equally impressive performance against Leicester on Saturday the Portugal under-21 international is someone who fans have taken too very quickly.
However, Tavares’ fine form creates something of a dilemma for Mikel Arteta.
When asked to give an update on Tierney’s fitness date the Spaniard stressed that he wasn’t yet fully sure when he will be back.
“He didn’t train with the team yesterday,” Arteta said after the win at the King Power. “He wasn’t feeling good, is still in pain and was struggling with his running.
“We need to help him as much as possible, get him back but I don’t know when that will be.”
I have been really pleasantly surprised by the form Nuno Tavares has shown across the two matches he’s been asked to come in for in recent weeks.
Of the six summer signings Arsenal made, he was the one who I probably had the most doubts about given his lack of experience and the obvious rawness to his game.
While there are still times where his youth comes to the fore, against Aston Villa his aggressive running was a real threat, and against Leicester he exhibited a defensive awareness in his game that I didn’t know existed as the Gunners came under the kosh.
With all that said I still don’t think I would start him when Kieran Tierney is back.
The Scottish international is such an important part of this Arsenal side when he’s at the top of his game, and I don’t think we should let recency bias make us forget that.
In the North London Derby win his partnership with Emile Smith Rowe worked a treat, and in those games against Brentford and Chelsea early on, he was one of the few to come out with any credit.
It’s a testament to how good Tierney is that opposition defences have been working so hard to stop his threat this season, and I think he deserves the chance to show it again. Tavares can play the next time he’s injured.
Kaynak’s view on whether Tierney should start when he’s back -YES
I think Kieran Tierney was one of the best players in an Arsenal shirt last season.
Along with Bukayo Saka he was responsible for some of the few good moments Gunners fans got to see in what was ultimately a really disappointing campaign.
That said though, I don’t think he’s been able to show it this season.
Although Arsenal’s form has turned around since the international break, but I don’t think Tierney’s has at the same time. He was poor against Brighton, poor against Crystal Palace and anonymous in many of the other matches.
The same cannot be said though for Nuno Tavares, who has brought a breath of fresh air down that left flank with his attacking running.
The Portuguese youngster is also very happy to use both feet, meaning he can either go down the wing to put in a cross with his left, or cut inside to shoot on his right.
Playing players based on form has been a big part of Mikel Arteta’s non-negotiables and to change that when Tierney is back would be a betrayal of the principles he has built his Arsenal project on.
Wheatley’s view on whether Tierney should start when he’s back – NO
For me, Nuno Tavares should keep his place in the Arsenal team even when Kieran Tierney is fit again as players must be rewarded for their performances above all else.
He’s not put a foot wrong in the games against Aston Villa and Leicester City, defensively he’s been solid and can be a huge weapon going forward. Yes, his decision-making in the final third is a bit erratic, but that will improve in time.
Whilst it’s not exactly the same situation as Aaron Ramsdale taking over from Bernd Leno, like the goalkeeper, Tavares has done everything that has been asked of him so far and it would be harsh to not stick with him for a run of games.
Unfortunately, the reality of Tierney’s situation is that he’s prone to picking up little niggles. Last season the Gunners looked lost without him as the decision to let Sead Kolasinac leave and not bring in a natural left-back ultimately backfired.
Arsenal realised this mistake and acted accordingly and after being ridiculed by many for their summer transfer business, the Tavares deal is looking like a stroke of genius with each passing game. Not because of his fairly small transfer fee, rumoured to be in the region of £8million, but due to him providing exactly what the Gunners needed and more.
From being signed to play a back-up role to Tierney, the inevitable injury curse has allowed Tavares to show he is more than capable of jumping above the Scot in the Arsenal left-back pecking order and present Mikel Arteta with a massive decision to make.