Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has preferred Takehiro Tomiyasu at left-back over Kieran Tierney in recent Premier League games – here’s why!

Tierney has proved he’s one of the best left-backs in the country since he joined us back in 2019. He has been brilliant for us, which is why many fans aren’t quite sure why Tomiyasu is being picked over the Scotland international.

We think there are three key reasons.

Why Arteta prefers Tomiyasu over Tierney
Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Why Arsenal boss Arteta prefers Tomiyasu over Tierney at left-back

Aerial presence

Tierney is an absolutely amazing left-back, but his heading isn’t one of his strongest traits.


In the Premier League in the whole of last season, the Scotsman averaged 0.5 aerial duel wins per game (WhoScored). That’s not a great record at all, but it’s still not too bad for a full-back.

Tomiyasu, on the other hand, averaged a stunning 2.2 aerial duel wins per 90 minutes (WhoScored). He almost never loses in the air, and that makes him an asset in set-piece situations in both boxes.

Why Arteta prefers Tomiyasu over Tierney
Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images


Tierney is an out-and-out, old-school, no-nonsense left-back. He bombs up and down the wing and is mostly effective at both ends of the pitch.

However, Arteta’s system requires the full-backs to tuck in and play as central midfielders when we’re in possession. Tierney has been improving a lot in this department this season, but it is evident to see that he’s still not fully comfortable.

Tomiyasu, however, is very comfortable in that midfield role. He’s calm under possession when he tucks inside and is capable of picking a long pass to either winger. That makes him a much more effective option in Arteta’s system.

Why Arteta prefers Tomiyasu over Tierney
Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images

Defending against inverted wingers

Tierney is usually solid in 1v1 situations at the back, but tricky inverted wingers have caused him a few problems in the past – especially when he’s isolated in that area.

If a left-footed right-winger is allowed to cut inside, there’s every chance he can go through on goal or have a shot with his stronger foot. That’s not ideal at all.

Tomiyasu’s defending against such players is extremely strong. The game against Liverpool earlier this month is a fantastic example, where he had Mo Salah in his pocket from the first minute until the last.

Why Arteta prefers Tomiyasu over Tierney
Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

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