Arsenal: Arteta pleased despite defeat to Aston Villa
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has received an injury boost ahead of the visit of Leeds United to the Emirates on Sunday. The Gunners will be aiming to cement their place in the top-half of the Premier League when Marcelo Bielsa’s men make the trip to London.
And Arteta has been handed a huge boost ahead of that tie with the news that Kieran Tierney is expected to be back in action sooner rather than later.
The Scottish left-back has been an integral part of the Gunners’ defence this season, making 17 appearances in the top flight so far this term.
But Tierney, who made the £25million move from Celtic in August 2019, has been sidelined for Arsenal’s last four games.
Tierney’s absence from the left-hand side of defence has coincided with a turn down in form for Arteta’s side, who have gone three Premier League games without a win.
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After allowing Sead Kolasinac to depart the Emirates for Schalke on loan, Arteta has been forced to deploy the right-footed Cedric Soares to fill in for Tierney.
Although Arsenal were linked to several left-backs in the January transfer window, including Crystal Palace man Patrick van Aanholt, they failed to bring anyone in.
The decision to not bring in injury cover for Tierney could have been influenced by the news that Tierney is believed to closer to a return than was previously thought.
David Ornstein of The Athletic has claimed that though Tierney has reported “discomfort in his lower right leg”, it is believed that discomfort could be down to fatigue rather than a long-term injury.
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The report also states that the scans of Tierney’s leg came back clear, giving further hope that Tierney could be close to a comeback.
Tierney’s return would represent a massive boost for Arteta and Arsenal, with the Spaniard admitting his squad is “a little bit short” of left-footed full-backs.
While Cedric has filled in admirably during Tierney’s absence, the Scot has become a key member of the team and is the undisputed first-choice left-back in Arteta’s squad.
Ollie Watkins’ winner for Aston Villa against the Gunners on Saturday also came after a mistake from the left side of Arsenal’s defence, meaning Tierney’s return could not come soon enough for Arteta.
In addition to Cedric, Bukayo Saka and Granit Xhaka could also be called upon to fill in at left-back, with the majority of Saka’s appearances for Arsenal last season coming at the position.
Leeds, who have won two of their last three Premier League games, are just two points behind Arsenal in the table and have become one of the Gunners’ main challengers for a top 10 spot.
The Yorkshire side claimed a statement win over Leicester City at the end of January, but fell to a 2-1 defeat at home to Everton last Wednesday.
They host Crystal Palace at Elland Road tonight, and will push Arsenal out of the top half with a win over Roy Hodgson’s side.
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