Arsenal: Should in form Nuno Tavares start over Kieran Tierney?

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 07: Nuno Tavares of Arsenal during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Watford at Emirates Stadium on November 07, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Robin Jones/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 07: Nuno Tavares of Arsenal during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Watford at Emirates Stadium on November 07, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Robin Jones/Getty Images) /

When Arsenal announced the signing of left-back Nuno Tavares from Benfica in a £6.8m deal it was Mikel Arteta’s first signing of the summer and largely went under the radar amid other more notable acquisitions.

The 21-year-old was brought in as an actual backup, unlike how the others were labeled, to Scottish international Kieran Tierney who has made the starting position his own. Looked at by many as a future Arsenal captain, Tierney embodies everything the fanbase wants to see in a player: commitment, willingness to do the dirty work, and most of all, has leadership qualities in abundance.

Tierney’s position in the team was never thought to be in doubt when Tavares signed, however, since the Scot has missed the last three Premier League outings through injury, Tavares has been thrust into the team and reacted with aplomb. This gave Arsenal fans and more importantly Arteta the chance to see the raw, yet talented, 21-year-old.

Well, after playing in seven matches in all competitions it is clear that Tavares has all the ingredients to be a star for Arsenal. His pace, willingness to get forward and support, physicality and ball-playing ability have all been on show, but it is his defensive nous too that has caught the eye.

Should in form Nuno Tavares start over Kieran Tierney when the international break finishes as Arsenal get ready for Liverpool at Anfield?

Essentially Tavares has everything a player needs to be a success in the Premier League. And because of his hot start to life in north London, it has caused an invigorating debate that just weeks ago seemed impossible.

If Tierney is fit, he starts….doesn’t he? That would have been every fan’s thinking at the start of the campaign. Now, that statement might not necessarily be true. Tavares’ form has been so good that he is nearly impossible to drop to the bench. But when Tierney is fit and available, he has to come in, right?

It was a forgone conclusion that Tierney is Arsenal’s starting left-back but given the comfort Tavares has shown in the position and his positive impact on results, the question has to be asked, even if we think we know the answer. He gives Arsenal so much going forward but also defensively as well and perhaps one thing that goes overlooked is that the Arsenal defense has looked just as good, if not better, when he has been in the team.

Now, while realistically Tierney is Arteta’s staring left-back, surely the question has to be asked? Tierney has endeared himself to the Arsenal faithful with the consistency of his performances but his start to the year, like many, was below his normal output.

There were mitigating circumstances but when he is in form he is the heartbeat of the side. Then there is Tavares. He has something that Tierney doesn’t and that is physical domination on top of his athleticism. There would not be many players in the Premier League who can dominate Nuno off the ball. He’s feels like what fans thought Sead Kolasinac would be, although we all know how that turned out.

As for the two we actually want playing for this club, both have great engines, love getting forward, have fierce delivery, and are effective with the ball at their feet. Ultimately it will come down to who Arteta prefers, of course, as both are great options at left-back. It’s a healthy and welcome headache to have.

What makes great teams great is competition for places. With Tavares, Tierney will be looking over his shoulder as if his form continues dipping, then Arteta has a bonafide star in the making waiting in the wings.

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It might seem like an easy decision to reinstate Tierney into the team but Tavares has put his best foot forward and now Arteta has a decision to make, one that we never thought he would have to contemplate.