Arsenal star Kieran Tierney admits it has been ‘tough’ playing a bit-part role in his side’s superb start to the new season.
The Scotland international joined the Gunners in the summer of 2019 from Celtic and has become a firm favourite of the Arsenal faithful.
Injuries, however, have hampered the left-back’s development and the knee ligament damage he suffered last March played a significant role in Arsenal’s late season collapse.
Keen to avoid placing too much reliance on Tierney this season, Mikel Arteta strengthened his options by signing Olekasandr Zinchenko from in the summer.
The Ukraine international, himself, hasn’t been a regular starter this term given his onw injury problems but Arteta raised eyebrows on Sunday when, in Zinchenko’s absence, he turned to Takehiro Tomiyasu instead of Tierney.
That decision was ultimately vindicated after the Japan international marked Mohamed Salah out of the game and Tierney admits it has been difficult to take a watching brief this term, limited largely to substitute and Europa League appearances.
‘It’s been tough,’ Tierney told Arsenal.com when asked to assess the opening quarter of the season.
‘I missed pre-season coming back from an injury, and the first game I played in was the Palace one – that was the first week of training that I had.
‘I’ve just been trying to get minutes here and there so it’s been a tough start, but whether I’m first, second or third-choice, I’m just going to keep working hard and see where it takes me.’
‘I wouldn’t say [competition] motivates me more, as whether I’m the only left-back or there’s five left-backs, I’m still motivated to play and to do well,’ he added.
‘Day-to-day, nothing changes in my life; if I’m playing or not I’m just working as hard as I possibly can. I train hard, and if the manager calls on me, I’m ready.
‘I want to play every game possible, when you don’t play like all footballers, you’re disappointed but when you get your chance, you just need to make sure you go and take it.’
Tierney is expected to start this evening against Bodo/Glimt in Norway as Arsenal attempt to take a stranglehold of their Europa League group.
Asked how Tierney has reacted to not starting in Sunday’s win over Liverpool, Arteta said: ‘Like any other player. We know that we make the decisions always based on the best possible preparation to win the matches and Kieran accepted that like any other player.’
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