We got to hear from our newbie yesterday, with the club dropping a fresh new video of Tomiyasu talking at London Colney to the chap that usually does the Arsenal Media videos and I have to say I was impressed. His English was excellent for somebody who has been in Japan, Belgium and then Italy before his travels brought him to the UK and I thought he talked with a real desire and belief when he did his interview. Having tried to start learning Japanese for the last couple of year’s and having two aborted attempts to get there due to COVID, I can tell you now that Japanese and the way they move their mouths to form their words – similar to Chinese in terms of difficulty, makes it even more impressive.
But that is the Japanese mentality and there are many Japanese citizens who will be well averse to English. I recently read Arsene Wenger’s autobiography and in it he speaks of the nature of the players he played with in Japan; hard working, run through brick walls, always wanting to learn and improve, more so than any other environment he’s been in. Historically there hasn’t been the technical ability for those players to make it in the European game, bar just a few, but we’re seeing more and more come over from Japan and perhaps that is a sign that the technical proficiency of some of these players is improving?
Tomiyasu has had one game and so we can’t get too carried away, but whilst we’re all putting out ‘context’ spectacles on when saying “it is only Norwich” to analyse the game last weekend, I think we should have those same spectacles with Tomiyasu, because this lad has landed in a foreign country on a Wednesday, met his teammates on a Thursday, done some training, a little it of media work on Friday with maybe a training session or two, then he’s chucked in for a Premier League game on the Saturday. That’s impressive. That’s mighty impressive.
But perhaps that gives us a little insight in to the mentality and the player we are getting. Hopefully a robust player who can deal with the rigours of the Premier League because he did admit to having a few injuries over the last couple of seasons with Bologna, but this is an opportunity that you can tell from his interview that he’s going to put his heart and soul in to and that is all we ask for as fans. Well, that and being an unbridled success, winning trophies and becoming a cult hero for us.
It can happen. If things work out for him then it can be a home for him for many years. I’ve seen a few people describe his performance as being Monrealesque. I’ll take that. And if he can follow in the footsteps of that Spaniard then I’m all in for that.
Monreal was an interesting one because at that time we had Bellerin who was the right-sided full back who would gallivant forward, get in behind opposition defences with his pace, would be more end product in the final third (or that’s what it always felt like to me), plus the guy you’d occasionally see roaring back as the last man to win the ball back from an attacker if we were caught too high up the pitch. But Monreal was the assured, composed, Mr Consistent who would rarely give you anything less than seven out of 10. He chipped in with the odd goal and of course he got forward (that goal against Swansea where he ghosted in at the back post from a Mesut Ozil ball springs to mind), but it was just knowing that we had a guy who wouldn’t get roasted in defence and was good enough to tuck in to central defence at times that made you comforted that we had the Spaniard in our team.
It’s early days I know, but it feels like that to me but in reverse with Tierney and Tomiyasu, in today’s team. Tierney is the attacking full back, the guy that gets in behind and can beat his man with a drop of the shoulder, playing the same sort of style that Bellerin played. But on the other side if Tomiaysu is the new Mr Consistent and emulates Monreal by being assured, by getting forward occasionally and chipping in, but by not being overrun by attackers, then that’s good with me.
I also think it’ll help Arteta’s style, because we know he likes to shift player positions and formations in game. Imagine a scenario, for example, in which Tierney is caught high up the pitch and we turn over possession. In pre season we played a high line and most of us noticed that there was space in behind our fullbacks. But if you have Gabriel shuffling over, Ben White moving centrally and Tomiyasu dropping back in to a kind of makeshift three, it gives us more cover, more stability and teams will naturally be thinking a little more strategically than just ‘leave men to run in behind the channels’.
That’s what I’m hoping for anyway and that feels like it could be beneficial for Arteta’s current set up of playing with a hybrid five in attack if you include Tierney.
Of course we still need to find a way to unlock our attack more, but if it brings a little less pressure off the back line then that maybe unleashes the forward players to be a little more creative with their movement?
Perhaps I’m overly projecting because as we know football games have ebb and flow and there are so many variables that happen throughout the 90 minutes, that what you expect and want to happen, rarely does. But at least it feels like there’s a little more of a plan now.
The good news is that Arteta also has a week with his players to prep for what Burnley will offer too and this is where no European football will be interesting, because there can be no excuses for fatigue, rotation or lack of a plan. I feel like I can see one brewing with the players that played at the weekend, but now it’s time to prove it on the pitch at Turf Moor.
Catch you all tomorrow.