Mikel Arteta was springing surprises left, right, and centre with his team selection for Saturday’s Premier League opener against Nottingham Forest.
A delayed kick-off meant supporters had an extra 30 minutes to mull over the starting XI, with many wondering how the Gunners would shape up on the field given the personnel. However, it wasn’t just Arteta’s XI that took Gooners aback. The absence of Kieran Tierney also caught many off guard.
While the Scot has been linked with a move away this summer, he featured throughout pre-season and often impressed with his vigour and dynamism off the bench. However, the arrival of Jurrien Timber has seen Tierney fall further down the left-back pecking order, and with Oleksandr Zinchenko soon returning from injury, the left-back’s minutes are set to dwindle further in 2023/24 – even if Timber is out of action for a while.
Why was Kieran Tierney left out of Arsenal’s matchday squad?
The lack of transfer talk surrounding Tierney leading up to Saturday’s game meant his exclusion from the squad was a surprise. The player isn’t injured, nor has he had a falling out with Arteta. It’s understood that he was absent on Saturday because they’re now ready to move the player on.
There was an immediate upsurge in rumours in the wake of the Gunners’ win over Nottingham Forest. Suddenly, a whole host of clubs were keen on acquiring Tierney. Real Sociedad are understood to be interested in a loan deal, while Newcastle have come back in for the former Celtic defender.
The Telegraph understand that the Magpies also want to take Tierney on loan for the 2023/24 season, but Arsenal want a permanent sale this summer. The Gunners might be forced to compromise if they want the 26-year-old off their books.
Timber’s knee injury will undoubtedly concern the club, although it remains to be seen how serious the issue is. Could Arteta be forced into a rethink if the Dutchman is ruled out for a while? Perhaps, but Arsenal’s cover at left-back is still pretty impressive even without Tierney.
Takehiro Tomiyasu earned a substitute appearance on Saturday after Timber succumbed, but the Japanese international has also battled injury after injury since joining the club.