“They call me a roadman down here. What’s a roadman?”
Kieran Tierney’s naivety towards London slang not only went viral but also solidified his status as a throwback footballer.
Partner that with a generic trim, tucked in shirt and overall lack of sauce, the left-back’s understated appearance is a stark contrast to his effervescent playing style.
While it’s easy to imagine Tierney feasting on a tin of Spam as he binge-watches Trainspotting, on the pitch the 22-year-old has all the energy of the Duracell Bunny with a left-foot that could find its target quicker than Paul Merson can say ‘Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.’
On just his second outing in a red and white shirt, the Scotsman terrorised the helpless Standard Liege right-back in Arsenal’s 4-0 rout and was unlucky to leave the Emirates with only a couple of assists to his name.
A faultless performance from left-back has been a rare occurrence for Arsenal in recent seasons.
Andre Santos and Kieran Gibbs were more recognisable as a comedy duo, while Nacho Monreal, despite his relentless consistency, had noticeable limitations to his game.
And for all Sead Kolasinac’s (very apparent) strengths, no longer are the Gunners shackled to a left-back who has all the grace of a reversing dump truck without any tyres on.
Not since Ashley Cole have Arsenal had a left-back who possesses all the attributes of Tierney.
Videos of his pinpoint crosses have flooded Arsenal Twitter™ along with an image of him squaring up to a Liege player following a late challenge on Gabriel Martinelli.
It’s that combination of brains and brawn that has helped him to be welcomed with open arms by Gunners fans.
It would be naive to label Tierney as an archetypal wing-back when his understated genius comes from the fact he’s most at home as part of a back four.
Adopting a deeper starting position allows the former Celtic man to effectively charge up his attacks before uncoiling like a rampant puppy to devastating effect.
With a pass success rate of 93% against Liege, only Dani Ceballos was better at finding his teammates, proving how much Tierney considers every touch of the ball.
His style is a far cry from Kolasinac’s ‘bull in a china shop’ approach that often causes Unai Emery’s attacks to break down and leaves fans frustrated.
With Hector Bellerin’s return coinciding with the impressive form of Tierney, you can make a strong case for Arsenal having two of the most exciting young full-backs in Europe.
Rob Holding has also risen from the treatment table to bolster the numbers and given Gunners fans hope of a remedy to their lacklustre defence.
Just as Cole was a crucial cog in Arsene Wenger’s ‘Invincibles’ machine, Tierney will surely play the starring role in any defensive revival under Emery.
The Scotsman has all the tools to forge a career for himself at the very top and follow in the footsteps of Cole’s legacy.