‘Tierney capable of following in Cole’s footsteps’ – Comparison to Arsenal legends made by Smith

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The Scotland international has made an immediate impact with the Gunners after finding full fitness and is being tipped to emulate some iconic figures

Kieran Tierney is only two games into his spell at Arsenal, but the highly-rated defender has already drawn comparisons to Ashley Cole and Nigel Winterburn from former Gunners striker Alan Smith.

A protracted transfer saga during the summer window saw the Scotland international become a top target for those at Emirates Stadium.

After much discussion, a £25 million ($30m) agreement eventually took him away from Celtic and down to north London.

Early injury issues prevented the 22-year-old from making an immediate impact with Arsenal, but he has been eased into Unai Emery’s plans of late.

Carabao Cup and Europa League outings against Nottingham Forest and Standard Liege have seen him attract plenty of praise, with Smith suggesting that Tierney is ready to step into the shoes of some iconic predecessors in the Gunners’ left-back berth.

He told the Evening Standard: “I’ve got to mention Kieran Tierney’s contribution [against Liege] because the way he has performed in his first two appearances for Arsenal suggest the left-back is capable of following in the footsteps of greats like Kenny Sansom, Nigel Winterburn and Ashley Cole. 

“Swift, skilful and tough, the young Scotsman’s crossing ability especially appeals. 

“For any striker, it’s very handy to know when the ball is coming in so you can make your run with real confidence. Tierney doesn’t mess about. 

“A sharp shift and whip has become a trademark already. 

“It reminded me of the wonderful service provided by Brian Marwood in our 1988-89 title-winning season. 

“Brian didn’t always feel the need to beat his man. He’d chop the ball inside before curling in a beauty, a move that created lots of goals that year for Arsenal’s No.9.

“And similar service from Tierney wouldn’t have escaped [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang’s attention.”

Kieran Tierney, Arsenal vs Nottingham Forest

Tierney was not the only Arsenal new boy to catch Smith’s eye in midweek European action, with Brazilian starlet Gabriel Martinelli maintaining his fine start to life in England with a brace in a 4-0 win .

“It’s not as if Arsenal are desperate for striking alternatives just now,” said Smith.

“Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is in the form of his life, tucking away chances with magnificent assurance. Factor in the excellent Alexandre Lacazette, once fit, and Unai Emery isn’t short of quality options through the middle.

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“Gabriel Martinelli, however, is quickly providing a choice. Following on from his brace against Nottingham Forest, another two goals to soften up Standard Liege spoke of a teenager going places fast. We hear he is better suited long term to a role on the wing, the position where he made his name at Ituano in Brazil

“But his clever movement here suggested otherwise. The near-post dash across his marker to glance home a marvellous header. The skilful shimmy and shot to curl in the second. These aren’t the hallmarks of a winger filling in. They point to a front man with natural goalscoring instincts.

“At 18, Martinelli obviously has much to learn. Pitted against better defenders, his hold-up play will need to gain nous. He’ll have to get stronger to protect the ball. But the basic ingredients are in place. He doesn’t need telling how to find space in the box — a wonderful asset for the challenge ahead.”

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