Takehiro Tomiyasu has admitted he isn’t satisfied after dropping out of Arsenal ’s starting XI.
The Japan international – signed by Mikel Arteta last summer – immediately found himself the club’s first choice right-back, following his £16million move from Bologna.
Tomiyasu made 21 appearances in his maiden Premier League season, with injuries the only reason he wasn’t an ever-present. But after struggling for fitness in pre-season, he has found himself relegated to the bench this time around.
Ben White has deputised on the right flank and helped the Gunners to six wins from their first seven league matches. Meanwhile, Tomiyasu has been offered only short cameos off the bench. Speaking whilst away with the national side, he has pledged to take back his starting berth, but accepts how difficult that may be.
“What is required in this league is quite high and I’m not satisfied,” Tomiyasu said. “When you look at the players selected as starters in the Premier League games, you will understand what is required to be there. I will work hard in order to get my position back.”
Arteta has heaped praise on both of his options at right-back and hinted each will get their chance in what is a gruelling fixture schedule between now, and the break for the World Cup next month.
“Both can play as central defenders as well,” he explained prior to the win over Brentford.. “Tomi has been playing left centre-back for his national team Japan. So we have the options there, and we have to utilise them in the best possible way. Especially with the number of minutes we are going to have in the next few weeks, and it’s great that players are comfortable doing more than one position.”
It is perhaps a sign of the strength in depth defensively that Arteta has selection dilemmas right across his back four. White’s switch to the right has only come about after he himself lost his regular role in the heart of the Gunners defence.
William Saliba’s return from loan and subsequent integration, means £50m-White is facing a battle to play in the position he is most comfortable in. That change has also put his World Cup place in doubt, after being omitted from Gareth Southgate’s penultimate squad.
“He’s played in both positions, sometimes he’s been selected, sometimes not [at international level],” Arteta added. “I think to have versatile players that can play at the level like Ben can at both centre-back and full-back is something that any manager wants.
“That’s especially the case at a tournament where a lot of things can happen. It’s Gareth and his staff’s decision but what I can tell you is that when Ben gets the call he will be ready.”
And just to add to Arteta’s growing list of selection headaches, Kieran Tierney sent a reminder of his own capabilities during the international break. Like Tomiyasu, Tierney was the undisputed starter on the left side last season, but in the form of Oleksandr Zinchenko, he has extra competition.
Action Images via Reuters)
Despite starting the last three Premier League games, Zinchenko’s imminent return to fitness could mean he finds himself back amongst the substitutes. But Tierney showed he still has plenty to offer by starring for Scotland in their 3-0 win over Ukraine.
The 25-year-old has been tasked with playing a slightly different role at The Emirates this term, with the inverted full-back appearing to suit Zinchenko slightly better. However, in a bid to get his manager’s attention, he revealed he has been taking tips from Scotland colleague Greg Taylor, who plays in that position for Celtic.
“He’s been brilliant, inverted full-back, and that’s how we are playing down there, so I’m watching him every week trying to take tips from him,” Tierney admitted. “And it’s been brilliant to see him doing well because he’s a great guy. I’m really close to him, I speak to him a lot, so I’m buzzing for him.
“We watch each other’s games and always text each other after games. It’s a new role for me and a role he is really comfortable in. “It’s great to watch him, he has been one of Celtic’s best players this season.”