Arsenal have missed Takehiro Tomiyasu so, so much

You don’t know how much you miss someone until they are gone. For over three months Arsenal had to make do without Takehiro Tomiyasu, and his stock rose exponentially in just 77 short minutes.

Making his long awaited return to the fold against Manchester United, he followed that up with his first start in 98 days against West Ham. Despite such a lengthy lay-off, his importance to the team and the high regard Mikel Arteta holds him in was made abundantly clear.

Cedric can feel somewhat disappointed. But only somewhat.

Across the three months Tomi has been out the Portuguese has come in and played his best football in an Arsenal shirt. Fluctuating between an attacking right-back and a reserved one who has even slotted into a back three, his displays steadied the ship at a time when it risked being capsized.

Takehiro Tomiyasu’s timely return for Arsenal in the 2-1 win over West Ham provided a welcome reminder of his undoubted ability

Tomiyasu making an immediate return to the Premier League team at the first possible time is more of a reflection of how magnificent he is as opposed to how underwhelming Cedric has been. Only ever brought in to be a backup option, he’s fulfilled that remit well enough in the 23-year-old’s absence.

Now he’s back, and he’s glorious.

Within three minutes of Sunday’s 2-1 win he’d won two aerial duels on his side without so much as a challenge. His aptitude in the air is matched on the ground, as sometimes solidity as a defender comes from how comfortable they make the viewer and their teammates around them feel.

Watching Tomiyasu is almost relaxing. This is a full-back who doesn’t cause heart palpitations facing his man one-on-one, and instead locks down that right side with the capability of two defenders combined.

Attacks are stopped dead in their tracks with his excellent reading of the game. Details that are often overlooked like how he positions his body – often stooped low and ready to pounce – and the speed with which he can decelerate is a nightmare for wide players running at him.

Said Benrahma had no joy. Whatsoever. One instance in the second half saw him recover to position his body in front of the Algerian, shield the ball towards the byline and then accurately pass with his wrong foot into Mohamed Elneny.

Moments like that you treasure greatly, and don’t appreciate until they’re few and far between. Tomiyasu provided more than one in this game alone.

Still understandably a touch rough around the edges in a team performance that overall lacked quality, the ease with which he reintegrated after such a difficult spell in the treatment room speaks volumes of his ability. When the opposite full-back is a chaos agent of the unwanted variety, his stabalising impact on the team can’t be understated.

Arsenal will need him against Leeds, Spurs, Newcastle, Everton, and beyond. We’ve missed him so, so much.