Mikel Arteta and Arsenal found their new partnership Ashley Cole and Robert Pires – Tom Canton

The selection of Nuno Tavares, in place of injured Kieran Tierney, sparked much pre-match debate and apprehension about how the young Portuguese full-back would face the opportunity.

In short, he absolutely nailed it. Tavares’ offensive fervor was cheerful and in particular, the combination and understanding with Emile Smith-Rowe stalled the Arsenal crowd from the first minute. Everyone invested in watching the pair combine throughout the game.

Speaking after the game, Tavares couldn’t help but comment on how much he enjoyed making his debut in England’s top flight. Saying, “It was an amazing environment, always good and I enjoyed it. It was good for me.

The numbers revealed Tavares and Smith Rowe combined more than anyone on the pitch. The 30 combinations between the two were seconded only by Gabriel and Ben White in addition to Takehiro Tomiyasu and Bukayo Saka both with 17.

For comparison, in the North London derby victory over Tottenham, Kieran Tierney and Smith-Rowe only combined 13 times, which was the 6e highest frequency of passing partnerships during the day.

Tierney is appreciated as one of the best left-backs in the league and he will be missed as long as he is away for what he brings to his side in terms of leadership skills.

However, given that Granit Xhaka was the unorthodox replacement at the end of last season, technical director Edu has found a brilliant replacement while he is not available, and the Portuguese defender will surely now be looking to establish himself. in this niche.

The pair played with such close positioning that one was always available for the other. Even looking at the average pass position in the graph below, Tavares (20) and Smith-Rowe (10) are practically overlapping.



Arsenal’s pass form against Spurs (left) and Aston Villa (right) shows the positioning and partnership of Emile Smith-Rowe and Nuno Tavares versus Kieran Tierney.

Compared to the North London derby chart, Tierney’s middle passing position has remained in its own half and further away from Smith-Rowe.

It’s also worth noting how Gabriel’s position has changed. The Brazilian defender remained much more reserved, allowing his Portuguese full-back to attack freely down the flank and have security behind him. Also helped the impressive display of Sambi Lokonga.

Could this be the blossoming of Arsenal’s next great left winger? With the two only being 21, comparisons between Ashley Cole and Robert Pires have many years to come true.

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