Mikel Arteta may make unthinkable Kieran Tierney decision after Arsenal surprise

Mikel Arteta after Arsenal's victory against Leicester

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Kieran Tierney has been one of the first names on the Arsenal team-sheet when fit in the last 18 months. Last season was undoubtedly the Scot’s best in an Arsenal shirt to date. Tierney didn’t have much competition for his spot though, especially when Sead Kolasinac went out on loan in January.

But now Mikel Arteta has a dilemma on his hands for when Tierney is fit.

The left-back has missed the last two Premier League matches due to an ankle injury.

That has given summer signing Nuno Tavares an opportunity to show why he was brought to the club.

And the young Portuguese has definitely grabbed his chance with both hands, to the surprise of many.

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Tavares is tall for a left-back at six-foot and is equally as quick as Tierney.

His marauding runs down the left have caught the eye against Aston Villa and Leicester.

Admittedly there is plenty for the 21-year-old to work on defensively.

He only played 25 league matches for Benfica so is relatively inexperienced at the top level.

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But many will feel he deserves to keep his spot even if Tierney is back available for Sunday’s match at home to Watford.

It would be a decision that many would have viewed as unthinkable just weeks ago.

But Tierney’s sketchy injury record may have cost him his spot in the team for now.

In truth, the 24-year-old hasn’t had the best of starts this season and even faced some criticism from Arsenal supporters.

However, he would have come straight back into the team if Tavares had had a couple of nervy performances.

But he has certainly done enough to keep Tierney waiting.

Speaking last week, Arteta said Tavares’ ability to not get flustered on the pitch is one of his biggest assets.

“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,” Arteta 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.”

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