Arsenal: Tomiyasu’s quality hints towards a not so rough diamond

When news broke on transfer deadline day that Arsenal was in talks to sign Bologna defender Takehiro Tomiyasu, not many fans knew who he was. After Saturday’s performance, they sure do now.

The 22-year-old versatile defender spent three years with the Italian side, making 61 appearances, scoring three goals.

When the team sheet news broke for Arsenal’s home game against Norwich, excitement grew as Tomiyasu was named for his full Premier League debut.

The game was the first time this season that Arsenal has had their first-choice defense playing together with Gabriel, Ben White, Kieran Tierney, and Tomiyasu all featuring from the off in what was a must-win game for Mikel Arteta.

Takehiro Tomiyasu had an impressive debut for Arsenal in the win over Norwich to hint that he’s the answer to Arteta’s tactically demanding right-back slot

Not much was expected of Tomiyasu’s debut having barely had chance to meet his new teammates but he dispelled any concerns of rustiness or extended integration time. The Japanese was just about Arsenal’s best defender, despite playing just 62 minutes.

So, what exactly did we see from Tomiyasu? An extremely assured footballer who has demonstrated numerous strings to his bow: pace, power, superb defensive nous, good positional awareness and the endeavour to overlap down the flank. Oh, and he can shoot too. One can only imagine the reaction had his volleyed effort in the first half found its way into the net.

On Saturday against Norwich, Tomiyasu was comfortable, to say the least. He didn’t look flustered, was cool and calm in possession, offered an aerial presence, and got forward to support when needed. His debut could not have gone any better aside from him scoring and that says a lot about the type of player Arsenal have got.

Tomiyasu did not look out of place at the Emirates and offered something that has been missing from Arsenal’s right-hand side for the last year or so: defensive solidity and tactical flexibility. He was barely beaten if at all and worked hard to make up any lost ground with his surprising pace.

Arteta was also pleased with his new signing’s performance as he was chatting post-game to the club’s official website:

“Really positive,” Arteta said.

“Just the first impression when you met him, it was just joy and happiness and good energy. The moment he steps on the pitch he was really focused, determined, he understands the role really good. He was cramping.

“Obviously he only trained a day and a half with us, he had to travel, and emotionally it was his first game and we had to take him off.”

While it is only one match, Tomiyasu has already shown he can be exactly what Arsenal needs – and for just £16m. It could prove to be an impressive piece of business from the Gunners in such a tactically demanding position under Arteta.

For Tomiyasu, his first match in a Gunners shirt was superb but when you come to a new team, in a new league and country it can take time to settle and find your feet. Tomiyasu had no such problems as he has hit the ground running.

Wearing the No.18, he already feels like he could be a crowd and fan favorite – Nacho Monreal found similar status donning the same number –  and that is just after one 62-minute cameo.

If Saturday is anything to go by, Arsenal looks to have the right side of their defense sorted for the foreseeable future. How he fares against sterner opposition is his next test.