Mikel Arteta believes Kieran Tierney could go on to become Arsenal captain, with the former Celtic full-back having been in superb form lately.
Tierney has played in all but one of Arsenal’s 17 league matches this season and opened his account for the campaign with a wonderful goal against West Brom on Saturday.
The 23-year-old cut inside from the left flank and curled a brilliant finish beyond Sam Johnstone to open the scoring, before then going on to tee up Alexandre Lacazette’s second goal in a 4-0 rout of Sam Allardyce’s woeful Baggies.
It was a third successive victory for Arsenal, who have turned their fortunes around after a seven-game winless streak in the top flight.
Since the start of December, no defender in the league has created more chances than Tierney (15), while Andy Robertson (29), Aaron Cresswell (25), Trent Alexander-Arnold (23) and Joao Cancelo (22) are the only defenders to have crafted more opportunities than the Scotland international’s tally of 21 this term.
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) January 3, 2021
Tierney had experience of captaining Celtic prior to his move to Arsenal in 2019, and Arteta has seen plenty of leadership qualities in the left-back.
“I think he can be,” Arteta told a news conference when asked if Tierney could go on to captain the Gunners.
“He has the respect and admiration of every member of the staff and every player. It’s just the way he is, he does it in a natural way. He’s a really shy boy as well but I think he represents all of the values we want to install and that are in the DNA of this football club.
“In both [attack and defence] he can do really well. He can still improve but he’s been really good in attack and really solid defensively, so it’s the kind of contribution we need from the full-backs.
“He’s shy, so humble as well. He came here, it took him a while, he had a really bad injury and was away from home, but he’s a natural leader.
“You see how he behaves on the pitch, and when he talks he says the right thing. It’s exactly what we look for and I am so pleased to have him in the team.”
While Tierney is starting to hit his stride in the Premier League, Arsenal have also been boosted by Lacazette’s return to form.
After going almost three months without a league goal, Lacazette scored Arsenal’s opener from the penalty spot in a 3-1 win over Chelsea on Boxing Day, before netting the winner against Brighton and Hove Albion and helping himself to a double at West Brom.
Lacazette is now on seven top-flight goals for 2020-21, with five coming away from home – his best such tally in the competition.
The former Lyon forward has netted half of the 12 big chances he has been presented with, which is a better conversion rate than the likes of Sadio Mane, Marcus Rashford and team-mate Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Lacazette’s contract is set to run out in 2022, and although Arteta has been delighted with the Frenchman’s performances, any talks will be held off until the end of this season.
“We haven’t talked about anything related to his contract,” Arteta said.
“I’m delighted with the way he’s performing, both that he’s scoring and the form and energy that he’s having at the moment, so he needs to keep doing that.
“We will talk in the summer and make a decision then.”
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