Kieran Tierney says it’s an honour to play with Pierre-Emerick Aubamyang and says he’s grateful for the opportunities given to him by Mikel Arteta as he continues to go from strength to strength at Arsenal.
The Scot delivered another canny performance on the left of a Gunners three-man backline which defied the odds to keep a clean sheet against Manchester City on the way to a 2-0 victory that sends us to the FA Cup final on 1 August.
Aubameyang did the damage with a goal in either half, the second of which was set up by Tierney, who played a beautifully weighted ball down the left flank to free the striker on goal.
After the game, the 23-year-old paid tribute to his captain.
“Yeah, it’s brilliant [playing with him],” he told beIN SPORTS. “He’s done it for so long now in his career. For me to play with him is an honour. That ball from me tonight, it’s not like a goalscoring ball and he makes it a goal. It’s brilliant to play with.”
"That ball from me is not a goalscoring ball, he makes it a goal!"
— beIN SPORTS (@beINSPORTS_EN) July 18, 2020
After losing the North London derby last Sunday, few people expected Arsenal to bounce back with wins against Liverpool and City. In both instances, we had to make do with minimal possession, but it sounds as though Arteta, recognising our limitations, drilled his players on game plan he felt they could execute.
“I think the manager has mentioned before that we have to suffer together at times like this, in games like this,” said Tierney.
“When we get the ball we want to play, we want to play well but we know sometimes, for five-minute spells, 10-minute spells, we won’t have the ball at all and we just need to stick together.
“I think, tonight we done that. We showed great character and defensively we were very good. We probably took quite a bit of confidence from the Liverpool result.
He added: “It’s been tough. A tough week, a tough few days. It’s a quick turnaround as well to the next game. It’s been like that since the restart but the boys are very happy and working well. Every day is positive and we’re building for something big.”
After an injury-hit first half of the campaign and then the frustration of getting fit just as lockdown restrictions were imposed, Tierney looks to have finally settled. Whether at left-back, left wing-back or on the left of a three-man backline, he reads the game well, knows when to put his foot in and is composed on the ball.
Even since June’s 3-0 defeat in the league at the Etihad, he’s come on leaps and bounds.
“I learn every game, I try and learn every game anyway,” he said. “That [game at City] was my first game back playing under the new boss. I was grateful for the opportunity and the more opportunities I get, I’m even more grateful. I’m just working hard.
He added: “It’s brilliant, I’m learning every day under the manager and I’m loving every minute of it.
“He’s helped me so much since he’s came in. I was injured when he came in and he was still speaking to me, still wanting to make me better. I can’t thank him enough.”