It wasn’t so long ago that Kieran Tierney was one of our best and most-reliable performers and a fan-favourite to boot. From his passion and performance on the pitch, his Tesco-toting ways, or his utter refusal to dress sensibly on cold day, it really felt like he had nailed down a firm position in the XI. Fast-forward a year, and Tierney is very much out in the cold, with persistent, nagging rumours eating away at his tenure. Injuries haven’t helped, and there’s the arrival of Zinchenko.
Although Tierney’s injury and subsequent summer surgery might have allowed Zinchenko to dislodge the the Scotsman from the starting lineup, he’s been fit for most of the season. However, he’s only played from than more than 30 minutes just five times so far this season, languishing on the bench while Zinchenko zips about. Has he fallen out of favour with Arteta? He can put in a shift at CB, something he regularly does for Scotland and has done for us on occasion.
Given our current injury woes, it might have been worthwhile to try Tierney at CB, knowing Holding’s limitations (especially for pace). While Tierney may not have up to the challenge of denying Haaland, he might have made a positive difference against any of Liverpool, West Ham, or Southampton. His work-rate, intensity, and pace could have made enough of a difference to see us win at least one of those, if not due to his own, direct contributions than perhaps through giving others like White or Partey more license to get up the pitch rather than hedging on Holding.
He’s arguably good enough to start for a side vying for a Champions League spot. As if to insinuate the same, there are murmurs around a move to none other than Man City or Newcastle, each of whom look like they might just have a chance at competing for a Prem title in the not-too-distant future. If they are in fact eyeing him up, that’s enough to suggest that we might just want to re-think letting him leave. He’s under contract until June 2026 at which point he’ll be 28. Too good to displace Zinchenko but not good enough to be trusted to bolster the defense when we sorely need it, it is getting hard to see a future for him here.
From our point of view, it’s wonderful to have depth at the position—but if one player only ever gets mop-up minutes, he’s bound to get restless. With Saliba and Tomiyasu out, I hope we’ll see Tierney slot in at CB. Holding has suffered a reverse-Samson effect ever since his hair miraculously re-appeared. Perhaps he misappropriated insurance forms to keep his brain from freezing?
In any case, I hope we see more of Tierney in these final weeks. We need an injection of energy, and he’s brimming and bristling with it.