Long-time Arsenal target Kieran Tierney finally made the switch to N5 this month for a reported £25m, much to the excitement of the Arsenal faithful. But what can they expect from the left-back signed for a record fee received for a Scottish club?
Tierney is first and foremost very strong defensively, winning nearly 20 duels per game- a statistic underlined by his tackling ability and his strength. The 22-year-old wins 24% of tackles per game, which on the face of it doesn’t sound hugely impressive but when compared to fellow Scottish left-back Andy Robertson at 20%, it becomes clear it’s a very impressive figure indeed. Tierney also averages around five interceptions per game, highlighting an ability to read the game and position himself well.
Tierney’s versatility is also another strength, allowing Unai Emery to set up with a back four or a back three with wing-backs- he has the ability and the energy to cover the whole of the left side if needed. This means Emery can be more creative with his selections further up the pitch, knowing Tierney can take care of the left-wing by himself.
As that suggests, one of the aspects of his game that makes Tierney so exciting is his ability on the ball and going forward. He is technically gifted, the epitome of a modern fullback, with his dribbling ability, in particular, a useful weapon going forward. For years, Nacho Monreal was one of the best full-backs in the Premier League going forward, and with his advancing age, it makes Tierney an even more important signing.
The Scot averages over four dribbles per game, showing he is comfortable attacking his opposite man and makes over eight passes per game into the final third- half of those into the penalty box. It shows that in attack Tierney is a forward-thinking and creative player, something Emery values in his full-backs. He also completes 80% of his passes, showing that as well a progressive passer he is also safe in possession and a good decision-maker. His intelligence in defence is certainly matched by his intelligence going forward.
Tierney’s technical abilities are underpinned by his explosive pace and his impressive stamina. There are few forwards who will beat him in a race to the ball and going forward his pace can be devastating, and effective at exploiting space behind the opposition full-back. His stamina means that he remains a defensive rock and attacking threat all game, and is a big part of his versatility.
His engine is complemented by an enormous work rate that endeared him to Celtic fans and makes him well suited to being a modern-day full-back.
Another attribute that stands out about the left-back is his maturity and character at a young age- he was a stand-in captain at Celtic and has captained his country in a friendly against the Netherlands- and has often been touted by teammates and fans as a leader. With Arsenal often being criticised for a lack of leadership in recent years, Tierney could add an intangible to Arsenal’s squad as well as his technical abilities.
What stands out about Tierney is that every time his name comes up, his professionalism and attitude is often the first thing mentioned. The left-back has all the ingredients to go to the very top and for that reason, Arsenal fans should be very excited- he appears to be the perfect signing.