The return of Kieran Tierney and Hector Bellerin is a real cause for celebration amongst Gooners – and rightly so.
Hark back to Unai Emery’s first season, and before our Spanish defender suffered his horrible knee injury. Before that it could be argued that Bellerin was our standout performer – the player who had taken the quickest to Emery’s tactics.
That is compact defending and roving width. Bellerin had solidified his defending and was providing assists readily. He was the perfect outlet and his supply was improving too. That was always something that could have been levelled at Bellerin, but not whilst under Emery.
His training was working dividends, but the injury put paid to his progress. Now though, he is back, and we now have the two parts that could galvanise Emery’s plans.
It is fair to say that so far, we have not hit top gear. The return of our wing-backs could change that. They will facilitate true width on the pitch. When the likes of Bukayo Saka and Reiss Nelson look up, they will not be forced to pass back or square. They will have that option on their flank, overlapping and giving the opposition backline another cause to worry about.
That in turn, will present more space to our strikers, something Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang can make the most of. When playing with Auba and Lacazette up top, this could make marking them a real nightmare.
Then there is the supply line that Tierney and Bellerin will bring.
As mentioned, Bellerin’s final ball had improved measurably under Emery before injury. And in just a handful of appearances, we are already raving about the crosses of our new Scottish defender. Young Brazilian Gabriel Martinelli has already profited from the pinpoint, fizzing deliveries that Tierney brings to the table.
So many benefits that these two will bring, and it fits right into Emery’s plans. In this modern age, any side missing their two first choice wing-backs would struggle. Take Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson from Liverpool and they would be stifled. Same too goes for City and the mega amounts they have spent primarily on full-backs.
Tierney and Bellerin can turn our season on its head, and leave defenders in a spin.
This season just got interesting!