August 18, 2022

Arsenal captured Scotland international Kieran Tierney from Virgil van Dijk’s former club Celtic for £25m in the summer.

Arsenal have landed themselves a defender who reads the game as well as Virgil van Dijk in left-back Kieran Tierney.

That’s the view of former Scotland boss Gordon Strachan, the man who handed the 22-year-old his first international cap.

Arsenal’s £25m summer signing from Celtic is set to make his Premier League debut for the Gunners in tomorrow’s clash with Manchester United.

His first start for the Gunners came on Tuesday, in the 5-0 League Cup thumping of Nottingham Forest.

Tierney made such a good first impression on the Emirates faithful that he left the field to a standing ovation when he was substituted deep into the game.

And Strachan knows that performance was only a taster of what is to come.

He said: “Kieran is seriously a wonderful kid and his understanding of danger is magnificent.

“He reminds me of Virgil Van Dijk in that way.

“The first time I watched Virgil and Kieran play, I thought, ‘Are you lucky, or are you brilliant at reading the game?’

“I’d love to see some analysis on how many times he intercepts or clears the ball in the box.

“He thinks like a forward, so he understands what they’re going to do.

“You could have six attackers and just him, and Kieran could still sniff the danger and get the ball.

“So he’ll certainly help Arsenal get to the top four, absolutely.

“Kieran will need a bit of time, he’s still a boy, but he’s an incredible signing for Arsenal.

“He’s more than just a good player — he has incredible spirit, strength, ability, and versatility, he’s perfect for Arsenal.

“He mostly played at left-back or wing-back for Celtic, but he can also play just as well at left centre-back or on the left of a three, which is how Unai Emery has got them playing just now.”

Arsenal have regularly been accused of lacking bottle and leadership in recent seasons but Strachan is adamant Tierney will bring both to Emery’s side.

He added: “Last season, there was a period when people were saying there was a new steel about Arsenal, that they’d found some grit.

“I watched them and thought it was all fake — running around referees, shouting and screaming.

“But, let me tell you, Kieran Tierney brings a real determination to that team.

“When he tackles you, he tackles.

“When he stands up and faces you, he means it.

“He has incredible inner-grit, and Arsenal needed someone like that.

“He also has a humility about him.”

Strachan is convinced that, in the long term, Tierney is captaincy material for his new club.

He said: “I know they’ve just sold their captain, Laurent Koscielny, but Kieran won’t be going in there expecting to take over.

“Give it a couple of years, though, and watch what he does, how he has been taught by Scott Brown to lead a top club.

“He’s a natural leader. He doesn’t need to shout and scream, he’s just got it – you can see it in everything he does.

“Nothing will faze him down at Arsenal.

“He’s dealt with more pressure from the fans before when he was at Celtic.”

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