Arsenal: With Kieran Tierney, seeing is truly believing

Arsenal, Kieran Tierney (Photo by MIKE EGERTON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Arsenal, Kieran Tierney (Photo by MIKE EGERTON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) /

Kieran Tierney’s match against Norwich City was pitiful by the numbers, but if you watched the Arsenal man, you’re a believer.

Arsenal‘s match against Norwich City was the most fun we’ve had since the restart by a long shot. This team gelled so well, and even their nervy moments never looked that dangerous. In short—this was a match that was never in doubt. And Kieran Tierney had a big part to play in that.

Though the numbers wouldn’t tell you the same story.

I always love finding examples of how numbers do not do enough. Anyone who only looked at the stats would think that Tierney was painfully average, if not skewing pretty poor. In reality, he was the complete opposite. He was brilliant and, for me, the second-most effective player on the pitch. Even higher than Aubameyang.

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Look at the numbers! Tierney created zero chances, he completed zero out of six crosses, zero tackles, one interception, just one dribble, he lost possession twice and he had the fewest touches of anyone else on the five-man defense.

Underwhelming, right?

Wrong. Kieran Tierney was incredible getting forward. I made this note after Sheffield, but we saw it again here—he doesn’t just lob balls into the box without aim. He makes sure there is something there to pass the ball too and he puts it on a tee.

It was borderline cruel that he didn’t come away from this match with an assist because his cutbacks and passes into the box were missing by mere inches. He also wasn’t getting any help from his teammates.

But regardless of what was happening around him, Tierney was constantly innovating over there. In the first half especially, he had so much space to operate. Sure, Norwich should have done better at closing him down, but in the meantime, Tierney was eating. He had a feast on his plate and he ate it all.

He put Hector Bellerin to shame across from him as well. Tierney was composed and decisive in the attack while Bellerin was floundering around in panic.

But the numbers wouldn’t tell you that. The numbers would tell you that Tierney was irrelevant, perhaps even invisible.

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What Kieran Tierney is doing is setting a baseline for what he can build off of. You can see it developing. The more he does what he’s doing, the more it will breed clear and numerical results.