15 Jan Tierney’s absence felt as Arsenal look in need of creativity in goalless draw with Palace
It might be churlish to recommend Kieran Tierney was Arsenal’s man-of-the-match in opposition to Crystal Palace given he wasn’t even on the market for the 0-Zero draw however the left-back’s significance to Mikel Arteta was underlined in his absence right here.
Tierney had helped set the tone for the Gunners’ post-Christmas revival which noticed them finish a run of seven winless Premier League video games with three consecutive victories and an extra-time FA Cup success in opposition to Newcastle. The choice to play Tierney for the complete 120 minutes of that third-round tie when a number of different regulars got at the very least a part of the night off was each an comprehensible need to maintain an in-form participant within the team but in addition an pointless danger considered within the context of what adopted.
– Stream Football4cast FC Day by day on Football4cast+ (U.S. solely)
– Football4cast+ viewer’s information: Bundesliga, Serie A, MLS, FA Cup and extra
Tierney was unavailable in opposition to Palace as a result of what the membership initially said was unspecified “muscle tightness”, code maybe for cumulative fatigue given this was solely the second Premier League recreation he hadn’t began all season. But it surely later emerged Tierney had been pressured out of the sport just some hours earlier than kick-off and can bear an MRI scan on Friday to find out the extent of the issue.
“We’ll in all probability know extra tomorrow after testing him, having the evolution of the damage, and the way lengthy he’s going to be out for,” mentioned Arteta.
“Definitely, it was a giant disappointment to lose him. It’s a problem once you make the gameplan for the day and inside just a few hours simply earlier than the sport, he has to drag out. Kieran’s development in the previous few months has been unimaginable and now it’s for different gamers to step in.”
No Arsenal participant has created extra possibilities from open play this season than Tierney’s 20 and so they desperately missed him right here. Ainsley Maitland-Niles has been tried as a left-back from time-to-time — most importantly maybe in Unai Emery’s first recreation in cost in opposition to Manchester Metropolis in Aug. 2018 — and as a left wing-back when Arteta favoured a 3-4-Three formation throughout Mission Restart however it’s not a place he’s naturally suited to. The 23-year-old struggled from the outset defensively and failed to supply even a imprecise approximation of Tierney’s attacking menace, registering only one cross within the 65 minutes earlier than he was substituted.
One thing related might be mentioned of Hector Bellerin on the other flank, who managed to work himself into extra harmful positions however incessantly made the unsuitable resolution, most memorably taking the ball off Alexandre Lacazette’s toe as he ready to shoot from Bukayo Saka’s cross. Bellerin’s type has been underwhelming for a while now, and Cedric Soares should be questioning what he must do to get a run on this team. However the reliance on Tierney at left-back is extra profound following the choice to permit Sead Kolasinac to rejoin Schalke on mortgage till the tip of the season.
Together with Maitland-Niles, who nonetheless harbours hopes of creating himself because the midfielder he all the time deliberate to be, Saka is the next-best understudy for Tierney and but deploying him there robs the Gunners of one of many brightest attacking abilities in additional superior areas.
Saka and Emile Smith Rowe confirmed up their extra celebrated teammates Willian and Nicolas Pepe in opposition to Newcastle however they struggled to interrupt down a usually well-drilled Palace aspect on this event. Smith Rowe has thrived of late however to ask a 20-year-old to repeatedly ship with only a handful of top-flight video games below his belt — this was simply his fifth Premier League begin — is probably a measure of the transition interval Arsenal are within the midst of.
Width is commonly the important thing in these conditions however with Maitland-Niles and Bellerin unable to make inroads, Arsenal discovered themselves disappearing down cul-de-sacs and missing creativity harking back to essentially the most troubling intervals throughout Arteta’s tenure.
This was the tip of a three-game profitable run — 4 when you rely that extra-time FA Cup victory — and so there’s a sense of momentum being checked. Arsenal have not overwhelmed Palace since Arsene Wenger left the membership in the summertime of 2018, a run now stretching again 4 attracts and one defeat, and the shortage of consistency in efficiency which contributed to the Frenchman’s departure continues to linger as a number one subject.
The sheer quantity of video games is catching up with a whole lot of teams and Arteta believes Arsenal are not any totally different.
“We created a whole lot of conditions in opposition to the low block however lacked the ultimate high quality,” mentioned the Spaniard. “We in all probability did not do sufficient to win the sport. We’re taking part in a whole lot of video games and you may see fatigue is paying a worth, many gamers aren’t contemporary.
“We had a interval that was fatigue-related the place we stored giving the ball away. We lacked the standard within the ultimate third to win the sport.”
Arsenal’s extra attacking gamers should take accountability however previously, they’ve been bailed out by Tierney bombing ahead from deep. Arteta can be praying his marauding left-back is not out for lengthy.