Mikel Arteta laments Xhaka injury blow for Arsenal
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Arsenal defender Takehiro Tomiyasu has been the subject of a surprise comparison with Manchester United megastar Cristiano Ronaldo. A former coach of the Japanese international claims that he shares five key attributes with the Portuguese, a bold claim although he has certainly made a difference since his introduction to Mikel Arteta’s squad on deadline day.
Arteta and the Gunners endured a torrid start to the campaign, losing their first three matches without so much as scoring a goal.
Then, late moves for Martin Odegaard, Aaron Ramsdale and Tomiyasu preceded an easier run of fixtures in which Arsenal have not put a foot wrong.
All three of those signings have made a positive impact, showing endeavour and intensity which was fundamentally missing from the side at the beginning of the campaign.
Victories against Norwich and Burnley were capped up with a superb 3-1 triumph over Tottenham on Sunday, steering the club’s season back on course.
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Tomiyasu has been one of the key reasons for their change in fortunes, revitalising their backline which shipped nine goals in the first three games.
Andre Pinto, the player’s former coach at Belgian club Sint-Truiden, is not surprised by his early promise.
“What is amazing about Tomi is that he doesn’t accept anything that isn’t success,” he told Goal.
“He’s not lucky, nothing for Tomi comes because he’s lucky. He’s just a hard working player.
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“You find a lot of dedicated players, but Tomi has a little bit of the Cristiano Ronaldo mentality in terms of determination, in terms of working hard and in terms of eating healthy.
“He is the type of player who is never satisfied. He will always continue to work hard to keep developing himself.”
Indeed, the comparison rests mainly on the mental aspect and attitude towards the game, with Tomiyasu’s technical ability not posing a threat to Ronaldo just yet.
Still, it is a ringing endorsement considering the 36-year-old is widely hailed as one of the most hard-working trainers in football – a key reason why he is still going strong at his age.
What it means is that Arteta is likely to have a real asset on his hands – someone who could improve the group’s work-ethic as he continues to improve himself.
He has already started strongly as a right-back, but he can also fill in at centre-back so there is plenty to like about Tomiyasu’s skilset.
While he may not be challenging Ronaldo for the Golden Boot this season, he could do worse than to match his hard work and see where that takes him on the pitch.
After finding what appears to be a winning formula, Arteta is likely to stick with his current defensive recipe which should give Tomiyasu the opportunity to show more of what he can do against Brighton on Saturday.
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