Arsenal star finds Mikel Arteta concept ‘alien to me’ after ‘trying my best’ | Football | Sport

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Kieran Tierney has admitted that he was ‘delighted’ when he learned that Real Sociedad adopted a more traditional left-back role for him after finding Arsenal’s inverted full-back concept ‘alien’. Tierney is on loan with the La Liga club from the Gunners, where he insists he ‘tried my best’ to adapt to Mikel Arteta’s unorthodox tactical approach.

The Scotland international joined La Real in the summer after several disrupted years at Arsenal. Injuries and the signing of Oleksandr Zinchenko – a natural at being able to move inside from left-back when his side has possession – saw Tierney’s game time limited.

Two minor hamstring tears mean Tierney has played in only 11 of Sociedad’s 24 La Liga matches this term. But the 26-year-old is enjoying his role under manager Imanol Alguacil. He revealed that one of their first chats was about how he would be used as a left-back.

“We talked about the style of play. That was the main part for me because at Arsenal it was slightly different. I wanted to know how they see their left-backs. And when they told me, I was delighted,” Tierney told the Guardian.

“One of the big things about Arsenal is their left-back is one of the most central players. Zinchenko is one of their biggest creators, more like a No 6. When that first got introduced, it was alien to me.

“I had never played as centre‑mid, even as a kid. I was always high and wide, what you would call the more normal left-back position I’d kind of known all my life.

“I was trying to learn that [new role] at Arsenal. You see how well it works and it’s hard to question: I tried my best, learned, tried to do it in training and games. Maybe I can be very comfortable in that position one day.

“I got to practise with one of the best in the world, Zinchenko. It’s so natural to him, he makes it look so easy. But for me it’s probably more natural now, going up and down the wings.”

Tierney will return to Arsenal at the end of the season but it is unclear what his future looks like beyond the summer. Zinchenko has faced scrutiny for his defensive performances but continues to be the first-choice left-back.

A permanent exit from the Emirates Stadium seems a possibility for Tierney. The former Celtic star will still have two years on his contract with the north Londoners, and Arsenal could look to cash in.



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