Kieran Tierney says he knew life at Arsenal wasn’t going to be easy but admits his injury-hit first season at the Emirates has represented the toughest year of his life.
Chelsea Celtic with a groin problem, the Scot went on to pick up a dislocated shoulder before Christmas and then had to wait until Covid-19 lockdown restrictions were eased to start his first game under new boss Mikel Arteta.
In the space of the last two months, he’s proved his quality, become a regular starter and today notched his first goal in Gunners colours along with his first Premier League assist. It’s been a roller coaster ride and the FA Cup final is still to come.
After the 3-2 win against Watford – a result that sealed eighth place in the table for the Gunners – Tierney told Arsenal.com: “It’s been the toughest year of my life. I’ve had the injury and a lot of new challenges but you need challenges, you need to be uncomfortable.
“You need to challenge yourself to improve. I worked hard every day and I knew it wasn’t going to be easy coming to this massive club full of great players. I knew it was going to be tough coming in and trying to get my place in the team.
“I’m just grateful for every opportunity I get to go on the pitch and give my all. I try to repay the manager’s faith by working hard and trying to put in good performances. It’s all about the hard work.”
No doubt, Tierney will be looking to make further decisive contributions in attack. Two weeks ago he teed up Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s second goal in the FA Cup semi-final win over Manchester City and the duo traded assists today.
The Scot calmly slotted home with his left foot to put the Gunners two goals ahead at the Emirates on 24 minutes and then turned provider, finding his captain with a long throw that the striker converted with an overhead kick.
“I didn’t know what to do [to celebrate the goal] so I just turned around,” Tierney added.
“I think it was shock! I’ll take it. It was a good ball from Auba as well so it was a good day for me personally.”