Why Kieran Tierney deserves a new Arsenal contract
According to several reports, Arsenal have opened talks with their Scottish left-back, Kieran Tierney, over a new contract at the club.
Tierney's current deal doesn't expire until June 2024, but the club are keen to tie him down to an extension to ward off any potential interest from elsewhere.
The former Celtic man joined the Gunners for £24 million back in August 2019, and although he has often struggled with injuries during his time in North London, he's managed to establish himself as a key man in Mikel Arteta's system.
Playing on the left side of the back four, Tierney's marauding runs forward have often provided an outlet for Arteta's side, and with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang offering little creativity on the left flank, that task has fallen upon Tierney's shoulders.
At just 24, the Scottish international has already made 218 senior appearances in his career (62 for Arsenal, and 156 for Celtic) and looks set to have a long future at the Emirates ahead of him.
His Arsenal boss Arteta has previously said that Tierney "can be Arsenal captain [one day] as he has the respect and admiration of every member of the staff and every player," and with such praise from his manager, it's not surprise talks over a new deal have begun.
But why does Tierney deserve a new contract?
First and foremost, Tierney is excellent when faced up against an opposing full-back, with his powerful acceleration enabling him to work a yard of space and deliver a cross. He quite often doesn't beat his marker, hence why his dribbles per 90 tally was at just 0.6 last season, but instead opts for an early cross, attempting 4.6 per 90.
That tally ranked him third in the Arsenal squad, behind only Willian (6.7), and Bukayo Saka (5.2), and was exactly double that of Hector Bellerin's 2.3, the Gunners' other full-back.
Furthermore, no player in the Arsenal squad could match Tierney's seven big chances in 2020/21, with the aforementioned Saka and Willian creating five apiece.
As a result of this, Tierney's xA per 90 was at 0.15 last year, whilst Bellerin's was down at 0.09. Tierney's tally was in fact better than Eberechi Eze and Marcus Rashford's (both 0.13) despite playing further back.
The Scottish international adds so much to Arsenal's attack, but defensively, he is fairly weak.
With just 1.7 tackles and interceptions per 90, he ranks bottom of Arsenal's current crop of full-back talent, but this is partly a result of his attacking endeavours. However, Tierney will need to add some defensive actions if he wants to lead Arsenal back into the top four.
It's not uncommon for top full-backs to complete fewer defensive actions due to the fact they see more of the ball than their opponents, but with Cedric making 2.6 in the same team for example, Tierney has work to do in the defensive phase of play.
With Arsenal finishing a lowly eighth in 2020/21, Arteta has a lot of work to do in order to climb back up the table. By securing a new deal for Tierney, one thing will be ticked off the to-do list.