Last Sunday was massive. It was special and emotional, reflects Kieran Tierney, as we sit and talk a few days after Arsenal’s 3-2 Premier League victory against Liverpool.
Tierney was on the pitch at the end to enjoy the win as Mikel Arteta led the celebrations, saying: “Obviously there was a lot of talk about the game in the build-up and going in and playing the way we did against that top team.” It was incredible. It was an exciting moment because you could also see the fans, how happy they were. So we were feeding off that too.”
In the end, but not in the beginning, as Arteta, without Oleksandr Zinchenko due to injury, opted for Takehiro Tomiyasu instead of him at left back.
“I was thinking, they took me off Thursday and maybe they’ll keep me for Sunday and maybe at that point that was their plan as well,” Tierney explained.
“Then the day before, he says ‘this is not about your performance, this is just the tactical change I want to make.’ I’m gutted, but that’s it. I’m not going to get mad and not try hard.
“I want to play as many chances as I can, especially in the big games. You want to play, you want that atmosphere. There’s nothing I can say and then Tomiyasu plays amazing and the game plan worked and it shows you there aren’t many coaches.” he would probably think about changing the right here, but he did and got out.”
A knee injury earlier this year left Arsenal short as they chased a Champions League place and Tierney’s fitness problems continued at the start of this season, missing pre-season before being revved up against Crystal Palace to replace an injured Zinchenko.
He worked hard to recover, so the weekend decision came as a surprise, saying: “I never really had that. That was the first meeting I ever had in my life where I was dropped, so it’s new to me still.
“This season has been new for me. There was a spell last season, three or four games that I wasn’t playing, but since the season started, I haven’t really played, so it’s new for me.”
“I’m learning, I’m dealing with it, but it’s hard, football is what I want to play. I worked very hard to recover from the injury, so you want to play as much as you can as soon as you can.” return. Unfortunately, I haven’t played too many, but whenever I get a chance to play, I’m very grateful. I work as hard as I can for the team.”
Tierney has found a way to deal with disappointment: a dog walk, a chat with physical therapists or sports scientists have certainly helped, as has having his best partner, chef Jonny, who rose to fame in the Arsenal’s recent documentary so much so that it now has its own place nearby.
What the defender believes will get him back to where he wants to be is his fiery competitive nature.
“I’ll try to put my head down, work hard. I can’t change anything other than the way I approach training, how I work. So I’m trying as hard as I can to get back to work.” .”
Fresh off a win, albeit not the flashiest, in the Europa League against Bodo/Glimt, Arsenal return from the Arctic Circle in Norway to Leeds on Sunday.
Last weekend was about showing as a group that they had the stamina and mentality to take on one of the greats. This week is all about showing they can back it up.
“That was a massive game, and we went to show that we can do it against teams that have been at the top for years, with world-class players and kept us at the top of the league as well,” Tierney reflected.
“So now all games are massive in that sense as well. We want to stay on it as long as we can, so that was huge.”
“It is a very tough league, we have seen it in recent years. We never started well last year, but we moved up the table and that’s why we can’t get carried away because we know there are still 30 games left.
“It’s a very good start that we’ve had and this month until the World Cup is crucial. I think if we can keep going until the break and then some of us can get some rest, we can come back.” of the World Cup and start again”.
Even before the win over Liverpool, Arsene Wenger believed that Arsenal were contenders for the title, so Tierney is beginning to?
“He knows a lot about football, but it’s early, just nine games. That’s the goal of everyone finishing as high as possible and I’m sure every other team has the same goals. We’ll see.” , we will not get carried away. I think that’s also very important.”
The most important thing is that the place is lively and the atmosphere that Arteta has created is happy. He has taken time, but sometimes it pays to be patient, says the defender.
“A new coach and a new style of play will take time to play the way he wants. If it was easy to go and do it in a game, everyone would do it. The detail he puts in, the effort he puts in and his staff put in always It was going to work, but it was going to take time. You could always see in the last two seasons that it was working, but now we’ve done it more consistently.”
Acting week after week is, as Tierney says, difficult. The summer signings of Gabriel Jesus and Zinchenko from Manchester City with the extraordinarily high standards scheduled on them must have helped.
But the return of Wiliam Saliba to the club has bought a calm security at the back. Alongside Gabriel, Arteta has spoken of analyzing defenders only in association, the pair having become something of a rock.
“I think Saliba has done amazingly well,” Tierney said. “I am really very happy because she is one of the nicest people I have ever met.
“It was probably difficult for him when he first came here, he was very young and had to go alone a few times, and that just shows the character that he has. He can come back and fit in with the team as he has been here for a long time.” the last two or three years.
“So all the credit goes to him because he’s an amazing player, an amazing guy and he deserves every good thing that comes his way.”
Tierney has played alongside some impressive central defenders, including Virgil Van Dyke at Celtic, so how good is Saliba at the moment?
“I think those similarities are in a lot of players. Even when Ben [White] played there last season, I saw them. He was cool on the ball. He could pull it off from defense.
“Obviously Saliba has that too. He’s just a different height and build and he works really well. You see how well he’s been doing at right back and it’s just amazing. It’s a great team to be a part of now.”
How amazing? After a difficult trip to Norway and two mentally and physically exhausting wins against Tottenham and Liverpool, on Sunday against Leeds we may well find out a bit more.