Mikel Arteta sets challenge to Bukayo Saka and Kieran Tierney over Arsenal left-back spot

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 27: Arsenal's Bukayo Saka during the UEFA Europa League round of 32 second leg match between Arsenal FC and Olympiacos FC at Emirates Stadium on February 27, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stephanie Meek - CameraSport via Getty Images)
Saka has made the left-back spot his own (Picture: Getty Images)

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has pitted Bukayo Saka and Kieran Tierney against each other for the mantle of the club’s first choice left-back.

Teenager Saka has nailed down the position in the absence of Tierney and Sead Kolasinac, who have both spent extended periods on the sidelines.

Scotland international Tierney has only just returned to first-team training, after being ruled out with a shoulder injury in December.

And Arteta is expecting the pair to battle it out for their place between now and the end of the season, saying: ‘They [Saka and Tierney] have to compete, they have to challenge each other and improve.

‘Whoever is best will be in the position, which is a really good thing for the team.’

Arsenal defender Kieran Tierney
Tierney is back in training after months out from dislocating his shoulder (Picture: Getty Images)

Saka’s standout performances have drawn interest from the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool, who are both monitoring his contract situation closely.

The England youth international’s current deal at the Emirates Stadium expires in less than 18 months, with negotiations over an extension still ongoing.

The natural winger has provided 10 assists in his debut season, and will be difficult to dislodge from the starting XI.

When asked about Tierney’s fitness before Saturday’s game against West Ham, Arteta added: ‘He’s done two or three complete sessions now.

‘He’s feeling more and more confident with contact around him and hopefully he will join in the [matchday] squad soon.’

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