Kieran Tierney admits to feeling “knackered” on the back of his return to Arsenal’s starting XI, but is “happy” to be back after missing a month of competitive action for the Gunners.
The Scotland international left-back returned to Mikel Arteta’s starting XI for Sunday's 1-0 Premier League defeat to Manchester City.
He was given a tough time early on in that contest by the lively Riyad Mahrez, but grew into the game and was disappointed to end his first top-flight outing since January 18 empty-handed.
What has been said?
“Yeah, it was a tough game and I wasn't sure if I was going to get the full game, but I did. It's 90 minutes under my belt and I'm happy for that and happy that the manager gave me the chance again.”
Tierney added on coming unstuck against the Blues, with Raheem Sterling nodding home the only goal of the game inside two minutes: “Against a team like City you can't afford to make the start we made in the first five or 10 minutes or they're going to punish you.
“It's hard because nobody was planning to not start well, so it's hard to say exactly what it was but it was just something that can happen against a top team and they punished us for it.
“You try to think positively because you know you're coming up against a team like City, so you know if you go one-nil down it's not the end of the world because they're playing brilliantly right now.
“We always believed that we could get back in it and we had chances and some parts of the game where we were doing really well and we were unlucky not to get a goal.”
How many games did Tierney miss?
The 23-year-old sat out six games for the Gunners with a long-standing hip injury.
After figuring in a 3-0 win over Newcastle, he then missed FA Cup and Premier League meetings with Southampton and further top-flight fixtures against Manchester United, Wolves, Aston Villa and Leeds.
The Gunners claimed just two wins from those contests, but are delighted to have Tierney back.
He was introduced off the bench in a 1-1 Europa League draw with Benfica, with 26 minutes there allowing him to be included from the start against City.
The bigger picture
Tierney has been a model of consistency for Arsenal this season and will have a prominent role to play from this point if the north London outfit are to hit ultimate targets.
Ongoing struggles with inconsistency are making it difficult to piece together a top-four challenge, with an 11-point gap to make up as the Gunners continue to languish in 10th place.
They do, however, still have 13 games to take in this season and will also be looking to chase down tangible success in continental competition, having already reached the last 32 in the Europa League.