Why Xhaka shouted at Tomiyasu as Vieira and Marquinhos answer Arsenal transfer concern
football.london takes a look back on the talking points from the Gunners’ 2-1 win over FC Zurich in the Europa League
Tierney refuses to give up the fight
Perhaps it’s a case of shiny new toy syndrome but the speed at which the narrative has changed around Kieran Tierney has been remarkable. It was only months ago that he was considered by some time be so crucial that his absence had cost Arsenal a place in the Champions League, but since Oleksandr Zinchenko ‘s arrival, he has found himself largely second choice. When asked about that transition ahead of the game, Mikel Arteta stated that the Scottish international was mentally still coping well.
“First of all Kieran went through a period of three or four months with an injury he picked up,” he told football.london . “He’s come back, he’s in a really good place and what we want is to have competition in every position. In his position it’s no different.” Against FC Zurich Tierney showed he was more than ready to take on that battle.
Much of the talk has been about his inability to come infield to help build the play, but it has quickly been forgotten how good the 25-year-old is when it comes to adding attacking threat down the outside. In the early stages of the game his pace and crossing ability caused no end of problems for the Zurich backline.
Whereas in previous games Tierney has looked unsure of himself in an inverted role that hasn’t really suited him, on Thursday he looked like a player with purpose again. Of course the quality of opposition has to be taken into account, but he does appear to be building in the right direction.
Zinchenko’s introduction with 20 minutes to go reminded us of the variety Arsenal have in the left back position as the Ukrainian came consistently central to help his side build attacks. Regardless though of who starts for the Gunners this season, it’s undeniable that they have two quality options at left back, and watching the pair fight it out this season is going to be fascinating.
Marquinhos makes his mark
It’s no secret that going into the latter stages of the transfer window Arsenal were on the look out for a winger. Pedro Neto and Mykhaylo Mudryk were at the top of the Gunners shopping list before injuries to Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny saw them take a late swerve in direction towards an attempt to sign Douglas Luiz. Within all that deadline day desperation though it was quickly forgotten that Edu had in fact secured the signing of a winger in the summer window already.
Marquinhos’ arrival from Sao Paolo when slightly under the radar this summer, but since turning up at the Emirates the 19-year-old has been making quite the impression. He is already a popular member off the pitch who is fully assembled into the Gunners Brazilian clique and making headway with several of their other young stars like Emile Smith Rowe. But far from being just a likeable presence he has shown his ability as well.
Arsenal’s plan when they got him was to assess him over the summer to see how he dealt with the adaptation process and so far he has been passing with flying colours. In three matches with Mehmet Ali’s under-21s side he has managed three goals and an assist and since Nicolas Pepe ‘s departure to Nice he has been a regular in the squad.
When he given his first chance at senior level on Thursday night he continued his record of grabbing opportunities by popping up with a goal and an assist. The goal was a quality finish to a chance that was not as easy as it may have first appeared after a swift counter attack involving Eddie Nketiah and for the assist he showed his quality by whipping in a fantastic left footed cross to repay the favour for the Hale Ender.
Of course the level of opposition has to be taken into account but the early signs are that Arsenal have got themselves something of a bargain in the young Brazilian. How he copes with Premier League football if given the chance will be fascinating to see, but the Marquinhos may well lead the Gunners to put the breaks on any January plans to bring in a forward if he keeps this excellent form up.
Vieira has mixed debut
Perhaps the subheading here is a little harsh given that it was a mostly positive night for Fabio Vieira. The 22-year-old midfielder had wet the appetite with an impressive cameo against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday, and ahead of his first start Mikel Arteta was willing to add fuel to this fire.
“We were looking for players that could play in the three positions, one in the front and in the attacking midfielder positions,” the Spaniard said when asked what had initially attracted him to Vieira. “We were looking in the market with very specific qualities and when I saw him I liked what I saw. Straight away I was so convinced that he was the player who was going to help us go to the next level and that he had the right personality and character to play for our club.
“It’s been a shame because we detected an injury when he was doing the medical and he had no preseason and everything has been delayed. Hopefully, you’re gonna see a lot more of him in the next few weeks and I’m sure that you’re going to enjoy.”
Early on Vieira showed why his manager has such confidence in him. His technical security was notably impressive, while his willingness to try difficult balls was admirable.
However, the 22-year-old will learn with experience that perhaps there is a time and a place where such risky balls are on. There was one instance were in the first half a poorly taken freekick was seized upon by Zurich for a counter that better quality opposition might have seized upon.
His set piece delivery also left a little to be desired on the night, but after not having any real preseason you can forgive the former Porto man for being rusty. It’s probably nit-picking to hone in so intensely on momentary mishaps, but such is Vieira’s potential that you can already see what a quality player he’ll become if he’s able to iron them out of his game.
Xhaka’s redemption arc reaches new step
As Granit Xhaka returned to Switzerland it was always going to be a big night for him. Walking around St Gallen on the day of the match, the 29-year-old was on the back of every newspaper in the country as they eagerly anticipated a chance to see their national captain’s recent evolution in the flesh.
“He has a different role this year,” said Mikel Arteta in his pre-match press conference when quizzed on Xhaka. “He’s been in more advanced areas, I think he’s playing really well. He’s been really consistent and he’s a really important player for us.”
As if the scrutiny of his home country wasn’t enough, another layer of attention was handed to Xhaka as he was given the captaincy from the start. It is not so long ago that this would have been enough to cause a riot among Arsenal fans. The scars of that Crystal Palace game are in the minds of most supporters, and while he was worn the armband since that day being given it from the start of a game was a whole different story. However, the fact that the even passed largely without comment is a testament to how high he is in the estimations of Gunners fans right now.
The Swiss international was good on the night, refusing to be overawed by the chants of an FC Zurich fanbase baying for blood. Instead he serenely supported the attack where possible while also playing a more disciplined role to help out Albert Sambi Lokonga. His leadership skills were also fully on show as he could be seen yelling towards Takehiro Tomiyasu after Eddie Nketiah’s winning goal, encouraging the Japan defender to come infield more often..TAP.TO.CONTINUE.READING
The fact that there was sheer panic among the Arsenal bench as the 29-year-old appeared to pull up with an injury in the second half shows how vital he is to the Gunners side right now. Luckily he was able to finish the game, and Arteta will be delighted that he has Xhaka to call upon for these upcoming matches.