Having dislocated his shoulder back in December when Arsenal beat West Ham 3-1 at the London Stadium, Kieran Tierney is back in full training as the Gunners face the same opposition at the Emirates today.
It’s been a long-road back for the £25m summer signing, surgery and rehab have sidelined him since then, but he’s ready to stake a claim for a place in the side.
The issue he faces is the fantastic contribution Bukayo Saka has made since being thrust into the team on a regular basis because of injuries to Tierney and Sead Kolasinac.
The 18 year old is Arsenal’s most creative player this season with 10 assists to his name, and Mikel Arteta says the two have to bring out the best in each other as they battle for a place in the side.
“They have to compete,” said the manager. “They have to challenge each other and improve. Whoever is best will be in the position, which is a really good thing for the team.”
Saka played 90 minutes on Monday night against Portsmouth in the cup, but at 18 he’s got plenty left in the tank. It will be interesting to see if Tierney does get the nod today, with Wednesday’s trip to Manchester in the back of the manager’s mind.
There’s also a realistic scenario where these two aren’t necessarily in competition with each other, instead combining down the left hand side as a duo – but in the short-term it’s one or the other in the full-back position.
The Gunners face West Ham at the Emirates at 3pm today.