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Arsenal’s Kieran Tierney backed to emulate three legends after brilliant start

Arsenal defender Kieran Tierney is capable of emulating Ashley Cole, Kenny Sansom and Nigel Winterburn at the club, according to Gunners legend Alan Smith.

Tierney, 22, left Celtic to complete a £25m switch to the Emirates in the summer but was forced to wait to make his debut.

Hernia surgery meant the left-back only made his Arsenal bow last week, starting their 5-0 Carabao Cup victory at home to Nottingham Forest.

He started again in last night’s 4-0 Europa League win over Standard Liege and impressed, setting up the first of 18-year-old Gabriel Martinelli’s two goals on the night with a terrific cross.

Tierney teed up Gabriel Martinelli for the first goal in Arsenal’s 4-0 win over Standard Liege last night

But while Smith insists Martinelli has a lot to learn, he has tipped Tierney to go on and become an Arsenal great.

“At 18, Martinelli obviously has much to learn,” he told the Evening Standard.

“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.

Smith has backed Tierney to follow in the footsteps of Ashley Cole (pictured), Kenny Sansom and Nigel Winterburn

“But I’ve also got to mention Kieran Tierney’s contribution 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.”

Arsenal boss Unai Emery liked what he saw from Tierney last night, praising the Scottish defender’s attitude after returning from a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

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“Kieran, after his injury, he’s coming back with a good attitude,” he said.

“Last week he played 80 minutes against Nottingham Forest with a good performance. Tonight is also a good performance.

“I think were are a better competitive team with him and Sead Kolasinac at left-back.

“We are happy with him.”

Original article: https://www.dailystar.co.uk/sport/football/arsenals-kieran-tierney-backed-emulate-20433557

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