2. Takehiro Tomiyasu
Arsenal’s main strength this season has come at the back. While a devastating attack was coupled with a defence that was porous at times last season, Arsenal players have formed a wall at the back. Defensive improvements lie with the personnel more so than a widespread change in the system. Jakub Kiwior has shown rapid improvement yet it is a more senior player in Tomiyasu that has rightly received plaudits.
There were question marks over the Japanese international’s position in the squad. The summer window even brought whispers that Arteta was looking to move on from him. Fortunately, these were just rumours. Tomiyasu has slowly been building his fitness and form. In the games he has been deployed, he has shown why he was nearly Arsenal’s Player of the Season in his first year at the club.
Defensively robust, aerially dominant, technically proficient and wonderfully versatile, Tomiyasu has allowed Arteta to rotate his squad. Whereas Arsenal’s season fell apart after William Saliba’s injury and Rob Holding was called upon last season, Tomiyasu’s ability lets him fit in seamlessly. Whether he starts in a rotated squad or comes off the bench anywhere on the backline, he allows the defence to stay impenetrable. With Saliba possibly carrying an injury into the Chelsea game, Tomiyasu could find himself starting sooner rather than later. Even if the Frenchman is fit, Tomiyasu’s form is crucial in maintaining Arsenal’s push for the top titles in world football.
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