Monday, November 28, 2022

Tierney, Tavares, and no retirement parties yet

Morning all, and if you can believe it, it’s Friday once again.

Mikel Arteta will hold his pre-Watford press conference this morning, our final game of this block before we go into another Interlull. They’ve always been a bit of a pain, but the international breaks in a season when you don’t have any European football and thus already feel a bit starved of football are even worse.

That said, one of the ‘upsides’ of the lighter schedule appears to be the fact we have fewer injury issues than we might normally expect. Granit Xhaka is sidelined, of course, and there are still some doubts over Kieran Tierney, but beyond that the treatment room is pretty empty, and that’s obviously a good thing.

On Tierney, with World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Denmark coming up, Scotland boss Steve Clarke spoke during the week about how he expects him to be part of the squad, saying:

“They’re hopeful he could be involved this weekend [against Watford] but if he only gets a few days training in, then fine. We don’t play until a week on Friday, so he’s got time on his side. I expect that Kieran will be fit.”

Arsenal released the latest fitness update yesterday, saying the 24 year is being assessed ahead of Sunday’s game, so who knows? If he plays against Watford, or even makes the squad, then his country will be more than entitled to call him up. I wonder if we might hold him back, and thus put his participation in the internationals in doubt? Keep him back so he can recover fully for us etc. The flip side of that, of course, is that if he is almost ready to go, getting a couple of games under his belt might be useful for us, given that he hasn’t made an appearance since the 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace.

In the meantime, Nuno Tavares has come in and done well, so much so the inevitable ‘Will Tierney be able to get back into the team?’ discourse has begun. It’s quite funny really. It felt for some time that in order for us to play in any vaguely enjoyable way and to be effective, we really needed the former Celtic man to be on his game. There’s no question that he has struggled for form this season, and such is the way it works these days, the immediate thought is that his replacement, with his whopping 227 minutes of Premier League football is the way forward.

It’s like the new thing is the only thing.

“Thanks KT, you’ve been great, but your form has dipped somewhat, the new lad has done pretty well, so here’s a gold-plated carriage clock* and off you go now. Go on, see ya later.

“ps – it’s actually brass, but keep it to yourself!”

I know I’m guilty of this myself at times. We often look for the worst case scenario because that’s what we fear the most, when it reality it very rarely transpires in that way. It’s just strange that we talk about whether or not one of our best and most consistent players since he joined might be done for, rather than feel optimistic about what he might bring to the team when he does find his form again. He’s been a first name on the team sheet player since he arrived, and this is really the first time he’s struggled to make the kind of impact we expect from him.

The fact that we’ve been able to replace him with a much more suitable and dynamic footballer this season is a good thing. It doesn’t mean that’s the end of Kieran Tierney though. We all know his character, we know what he’s capable of, and if anything, knowing he’s got to work harder to get back into the team and to stay there because he’s got Tavares providing competition rather than Xhaka or Sead Kolasinac, is actually a healthy situation.

When you think about this Arsenal team and the potential we all hope it has, we focus on the young players, the exciting Academy graduates, the impressive new signings, but perhaps we forget that Tierney fits nicely into this bracket too. He is still only 24, so very much someone who can grow and develop along with this group. He’s not been at his best this season, but form fluctuates and he’s not immune to those dips. He’ll be back though, and the idea of him being close to his best is an exciting one if he can match his form with that of everyone else and the team.

Right, let’s leave it there for this morning. I’ll point you in the direction of Tim’s column this week which touches on the subject of cult heroes and soft factors, and there is a brand new Arsecast below, featuring an interview with one of the directors of the upcoming Arsene Wenger: Invincible movie, Arsenal chat, a competition and lots more.

We’ll have all the press conference coverage over on Arseblog News as always. Catch you later.

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