Arsenal given Kieran Tierney boost as Mikel Arteta faces Nuno Tavares dilemma ahead of Watford

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Arsenal have been handed a boost over the fitness of Kieran Tierney ahead of their Premier League clash with Watford at the Emirates on Sunday.

The Scottish left-back has missed their last three matches against Aston Villa, Leeds and Leicester due to a bruised ankle that he picked up in training a couple of weeks ago.

Speaking after this weekend’s win at the King Power Stadium, Mikel Arteta revealed that he was not overly optimistic about the 24-year-old’s chances of making it for Watford.

“He is still in pain. He is not comfortable when he is running, so he was struggling,” the Spaniard said. “We are trying to help him as much as possible. We need him back and I don’t know when that will be.”

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Now though, the Gunners have received a positive update on Tierney’s chances.

Sunday’s match represents the last one for Arsenal before the Premier League pauses for a two-week international break.

This fortnight will include the last round of qualifiers for next year’s World Cup in Qatar. Scotland can secure themselves a second placed play-off spot in Group E if they win against either bottom side Moldova or runaway leaders Denmark.

Tierney is hopeful of being available to help his country in this important set of fixtures, and now his national team boss Steve Clarke has revealed the chances of this happening are higher than first thought.

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Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta with Kieran Tierney
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta with Kieran Tierney

“I think Kieran will be on the plane and, if he’s on the plane, he’ll be fit,” Clarke told reporters when asked about the Arsenal left-back’s chances.

“That’s my opinion but look, you have to respect the club and the club are telling us he’s working his way back to fitness.

“They’re hopeful he could be involved this weekend (against Watford) but if he (only) gets a few days training in, then fine. We don’t play until a week on Friday, so he’s got time on his side. I expect that Kieran will be fit.”

Tierney’s potential return against Watford represents a welcome dilemma for Arteta when it comes to team selection.

In the 24-year-old’s absence, summer signing Nuno Tavares has filled in impeccably to the extent that many are calling for the Portugal under-21 international to start ahead of Tierney even when he is back to full fitness.

Arteta has been impressed with what he’s seen from Tavares across these few games and was full of praise for the 21-year-old’s character ahead of the match against Leeds.

“That’s something that we really liked about Nuno when we were looking at him, and credit to Edu and the scouting department when they were doing the process because that is something that we have discussed a lot because we want a certain character to play for Arsenal,” he said.

“To deal with that pressure, to be able to perform straight away when you are needed and to go from not playing to playing straight away, and to have this capacity to do what he did. So credit to the boy.

“One of the biggest qualities he has is that he is not fazed at all when is playing. He was not fazed to make a debut like he did, the risks that he takes, the actions that he puts in place.

“Plus what you can see, his physicality, he is naturally a very gifted athlete. He can run and he can change speed and direction, and technically he is very gifted.

“But for me the most important thing is that he is a defender and he needs to defend first, and then he can provide the rest of his qualities.”

Arteta has been keen that one of his non-negotiables has been rewarding players based on how they have played when they have been given a chance.

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However, Tierney has been one of his most consistent performers during his time in charge in North London, and after handing him a contract extension in the summer, he will surely want to keep him onside.

It’s the kind of dilemma every manager wishes they could have – choosing between two top quality options for one position – but it is still a tricky one that Arteta must decide carefully.

Source by Football London

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