An interesting subplot emerged over matchweek four of the Premier League as Arsenal and Tottenham both handed debuts to their new right-backs, who could easily have been playing in roles reversed.
The desire for a right-back before the summer transfer window even opened was one widely discussed and agreed upon: Hector Bellerin was on his way out and while Calum Chambers proved himself to be serviceable, he was nothing more than that.
A host of defenders were linked with Arsenal over the course of the window, one of whom now plies his trade for Tottenham but a short journey north of the Emirates.
Tottenham paid just shy of £28m to bring Emerson to the club from Barcelona, a handsome fee that many Gunners would have deemed acceptable due to his impressive form in the season just gone.
Mikel Arteta’s intervention stopped Arsenal signing Emerson Royal with Tottenham instead paying £28m and Takehiro Tomiyasu joining the Gunners
But despite signing Takehiro Tomiyasu on deadline day, who coincidentally was locked in talks with Tottenham at one stage of the window, Arsenal were in advanced negotiations for the Brazilian in a swap deal involving Bellerin.
The Athletic report that the deal was even considered ‘likely’ at one stage, with Arsenal’s recruitment team heavily in favour of signing the player, only for Mikel Arteta to pull the plug. Not convinced of his fit in the team, the delay saw Spurs swoop in.
This is an important intervention. Immediate flashbacks bring up the Nicolas Pepe and Wilfried Zaha incident, in which Unai Emery was overruled on the latter, giving an example of the additional pull and power Arteta has over the previously employed ‘head coach’.
Insistent that Tomiyasu was the right fit for Arsenal, the Japan international had been monitored for a long time before the move accelerated on the penultimate day of the window. If a solid judgement could be made after the respective debuts (it can’t), Arteta got it right: Tomiyasu made a strong account of himself against Norwich while Emerson got roasted all afternoon by that man Zaha at Selhurst Park.
It comes back to the talent ID.
Nobody knows Arteta’s demands and vision better than the man himself, and being in a position where he can overrule a substantially more financially viable deal in favour of what was an undesirable simple loan for Bellerin and a £16m-£20m move for Tomiyasu demonstrates his control.
Moves like these are ones he will live and die on. Opting to field the 22-year-old against Norwich despite just one and half days’ worth of training indicates he believes this is a sword he will thrive on.
Early signs are positive, kindly aided in these early stages by the glorious man that is Patrick Vieira.