Martin Keown has praised Arsenal defender Takehiro Tomiyasu and told BT Sport (broadcast on 20/10; 18:45) that the Japan international is Arsenal’s best out-and-out defender following the first-half of their Europa League tie with PSV Eindhoven.
Mikel Arteta named a strong side for the clash with Ruud van Nistelrooy’s men at the Emirates. But he did also make a number of changes, including moving Tomiyasu out to right-back.
Tomiyasu had a difficult time at left-back at the weekend, with Granit Xhaka reportedly losing his cool with him at one stage. But he was amazing against Liverpool previously.
Takehiro Tomiyasu praised by Martin Keown
And he was handed the crucial task for Arsenal: marking Cody Gakpo out of the game. Gakpo has been unbelievable at the start of this season.
The two teams went into the break level. And Keown suggested that he was hugely impressed by how Tomiyasu dealt with his task.
“Tomiyasu is probably Arsenal’s best out and out defender, in a one v one situation. Look at how dominant he is in the air. He’s a big boy actually. They have dealt with that problem [of Gakpo] really well,” he told BT Sport.
Tomiyasu has been incredibly unlucky so far this season. He missed the start of the campaign due to injury. And that allowed Ben White to prove a revelation in that role.
It is remarkable that Arsenal now have a player of Tomiyasu’s quality having to play out of position to get minutes in the Premier League. And it became abundantly clear on Thursday just how good the former Bologna man can be.
He dealt extremely well with one of the most in-form forwards in Europe. And perhaps his display will act as a little reminder to White that he will do extremely well to continue to keep him out of the side.