When Takehiro Tomiyasu was chosen to play at left-back towards Liverpool final month, some eyebrows have been raised however conclusions have been shortly arrived at. Tomiyasu is an excellent one-on-one defender. Although he’s pleasingly ambipedal he’s predominantly right-footed and Liverpool’s right-winger Mo Salah may be very left-footed and inclined to chop in and shoot.
Again in December 2017, Arsene Wenger chosen a younger and comparatively inexperienced Ainsley Maitland-Niles at left-back at house to Liverpool for the same purpose. An inverted full-back could be nicely matched to tackle an inverted winger, particularly if they’re pretty much as good a stand-up defender as Tomiyasu.
One other of Liverpool’s favoured strikes is the large swap of play from left to proper. Virgil van Dijk and Andy Robertson typically wish to rake swooshing, diagonal passes to Salah from the opposite facet of the sphere to isolate the opposing left-back towards the Egyptian. Tomiyasu is superb within the air and his radar was finely tuned that day.
Tomiyasu led Arsenal for tackles (3) and aerial duels gained (4) and was second for ball recoveries (6). His choice on the day was justified as Mo Salah was subbed on 68 minutes. Nevertheless, his choice at left-back towards Leeds every week later was met with higher shock. Was Arteta rewarding the Japanese for his efficiency towards Liverpool when, let’s face it, he was extremely unfortunate to search out himself out of the workforce within the first place.
The tactic didn’t appear to work as nicely towards Leeds as Arsenal have been penned again within the second half and doubtless would have been a bit lucky to attract the sport, not to mention win it. Most of us anticipated Tierney to return to the workforce for the journey to Southampton however he was duly chosen once more. It was one other efficiency the place Arsenal struggled to provide any attacking impetus within the second half and the Gunners surrendered a lead to attract the sport.
A go to from backside of the desk Nottingham Forest would absolutely see the extra enterprising Tierney restored to the beginning line-up however, no, there was Tomiyasu once more, a lot to everybody’s shock. So why is Arteta so intent on choosing Tomi at left-back forward of the extra pure seeming alternative of Tierney? And what does it say about Tierney’s place within the squad?
Nicely, the primary tick within the Tomiyasu field is his defensive acumen. Tierney is an efficient defender, adequate to have performed as an out of doors centre-half in a again three for membership and nation. However Tomiyasu can trump that, usually enjoying as a centre-half for Japan in a again four- and on the left of the central pairing no much less.
Defensive information is notoriously unsatisfactory as a result of it’s biased in direction of actions and, typically, good defending just isn’t quantifiable by tangible motion or partaking with an opponent. Nevertheless, Tierney and Tomiyasu’s comparative information nonetheless tells a number of the story. Little of Tierney’s information right here is regarding and even objectively unhealthy (perhaps not successful a sort out within the attacking third is a wrinkle) it’s simply that Tomiyasu’s information wrecks the curve in most respects.
|Tackles gained defensive third||1.30||0.79|
|Tackles gained attacking third||0.65||0.00|
|Instances dribbled previous||0.22||0.26|
|Tackles and interceptions||5.22||2.89|
All information is per 90 and from FBref
After all, it’s not all in regards to the purely defensive facet of the place although. The fashionable day full-back, we’re advised, is as a lot part of the assault because the defence. Tierney actually has extra affect within the remaining third than Tomiyasu. He averages 21.6 touches within the attacking third per 90 in comparison with Tomi’s 12.8, whereas he additionally produces 2.11 crosses per 90 to Tomiyasu’s 0.87.
We all know, in fact, that Arteta most popular Zinchenko to Tierney at left-back earlier within the season due to his potential to invert into midfield, a tactical sleight of hand that fits the Ukrainian much more naturally than it does Tierney. This manouevre is about serving to to regulate video games by possession, even when Zinchenko’s defensive positioning- and instincts- generally make him a defensive legal responsibility.
The difficulty for Tierney, in my opinion, is that Arteta just isn’t determined for his qualities in an attacking sense. He’s a two-way, overlapping full-back that likes to take the surface lane and assault from the touchline. A number of weeks in the past, I wrote a bit about Gabriel Martinelli and checked out his efficiency information from this season.
What struck me in setting up that piece is how a lot wider Martinelli has been this season in comparison with final. Each he and Saka have been requested to remain good and extensive to provide Arsenal width and depth once they construct play. In actual fact, they’re paying homage to Sterling and Sane at Manchester Metropolis when Arteta was teaching there. On this construction, there may be much less want for an overlapping full-back.
Arteta has his 5 attacking lanes crammed out by Martinelli (typically Gabriel Jesus will rotate along with his compatriot, shifting from the central lane to the far left), Jesus, Odegaard, Saka and the fifth lane is often plundered by the late runs of Granit Xhaka (as Lewis Ambrose wrote this week). This season, the full-backs are requested to be defenders and secondary midfielders however probably not secondary attackers, so Tierney’s qualities are usually not as wanted for the coach.
Successfully, when opponents clear the ball from Arsenal assaults and seek for area, Arteta needs his defenders primed to both pounce on clearances and instantly restart one other assault, or else they may want to show the after burners on to get better into area and defend. Perhaps the pairing with Martinelli on the left just isn’t perfect for Tierney inside this framework as nicely.
Tierney would most likely mesh extra fluidly with Emile Smith Rowe, whose recreation is much less about driving at full-backs a la Martinelli and extra about shifting inside a bit and mixing with an overlapping full-back. Alas, Smith Rowe has been injured for almost all of the season. Whereas Tierney trumps Tomiyasu in terms of crosses into the realm, this too just isn’t an particularly desired tactic for Arteta- which is among the causes that Cedric Soares has been completely frozen out this season.
Arsenal are fifteenth within the Premier League for crosses tried and for crosses accomplished. It’s a minor, not a significant, a part of their repertoire. Each of the wingers and one of many full-backs are inverted in any case, Odegaard is a lefty who performs over to the appropriate. Arsenal’s present setup is about having the ability to exit to in somewhat than in to out.
Issues can change, in fact. Tomiyasu was struggling for begins till the Liverpool recreation. Groups evolve and partnerships change, which suggests your qualities can come into vogue once more shortly. For now, although, it’s simply the case that Tomiyasu’s qualities swimsuit what Arteta needs from his workforce. When Arteta advised Tierney that his omission from the Liverpool recreation was tactical, he wasn’t speaking about Liverpool, he was speaking about Arsenal.