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Brendan Rodgers backs former Celtic star Kieran Tierney to make an impact at Arsenal

© Catherine Ivill/Getty ImagesKieran Tierney
Kieran Tierney

Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers has no doubt former Celtic defender Kieran Tierney will find his feet and make an impact at Arsenal.

On Saturday at the King Power Stadium, Rodgers and Tierney will be on opposing sides for the first time since the ex-Bhoys manager departed Celtic Park for Leicester last February and with the player now at Arsenal following a £25million move in August.

Rodgers has nothing but praise for Tierney as he said: “As a player, in the first week working with him, I could see after two or three days why there was a lot of clamour for him.

“From that moment he was absolutely brilliant for me. He became stronger, more powerful, very aggressive in his game.

“He worked hard every single day but he was also a strong boy mentally, and he had a lot of good mentors. Scott Brown was an incredible captain for me, and he (Tierney) took on that mantle to try and be like him.

“Every day in training he was very focused on becoming better, and obviously he loved Celtic as a club. He supported the club, and that gave him that extra one per cent every time he played.

“So as a player he was fantastic, and he captained the team for me on a few occasions as well, but also a great boy, very humble, just wanting to be the very best he can be.”

Arsenal’s move for Tierney was three years in the making as they approached Celtic for the now 22-year-old in Rodgers’ first week in charge of the club in May 2016.

“Peter (Lawwell, chief executive) had said to me – and he was very honest about it – there was a possibility of Kieran going to Arsenal, but there was no rush for Celtic to sell him, and there was a big offer at the time,” added Rodgers.

“So I spoke to Kieran, told him I wanted him to stay, to be a big part of what we were doing, and between him and the club, a new deal was agreed, and he stayed until he went in the summer.

“He’s gone into Arsenal, a really competitive team and a huge club, and it takes that little bit of time to settle.

“He’s gone from one big city to another, leaving behind his family and friends in Glasgow, so it’s been a period of adaptation for him.

“I’ve got no doubt he will do very, very well in his time.”

Tierney, meanwhile, insists it is up to the Arsenal players to address a poor run of form as pressure continues to mount on head coach Unai Emery.

A 1-1 Europa League draw against Vitoria in Portugal on Wednesday afternoon only ramped up the criticism aimed at Emery as the Gunners were lucky to leave Guimaraes with a share of the spoils.

Shkodran Mustafi opened the scoring for the visitors with an 80th-minute header – Arsenal’s first and only effort on target during the game – only to see Bruno Duarte equalise in stoppage time.

It is the fourth time in 10 days that Emery’s side have let a lead slip and Arsenal have now won just one of their last six games across all competitions.

Emery was defiant following the game when was asked about speculation linking former Chelsea and Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho as a potential replacement – simply replying “I am the coach.”

But as the whispers surrounding Emery’s future seem to increase in volume with each passing game, Tierney believes turning results around is a challenge that lies on the shoulders of the players rather than their beleaguered coach.

Asked if he was convinced Emery was the right man to address the recent slide, the Scotland defender replied: “Yes, of course.

“It is up to us as players to correct it on the pitch. For me, he (Emery) has been brilliant since I’ve come in.

“I have learned a lot. I am learning a lot every day, playing with great players. Everybody in the changing room has got belief in each other and the manager.”

Tierney, who joined from Celtic for £25million in the summer, also credited Emery with helping him develop his game as he looks to establish himself in the Arsenal side having made the move while carrying a groin injury.

“Of course,” he replied when asked if Emery was making him a better player.

“The players around me are making me a better player as well. I am just learning and I am enjoying every week.

“He likes to keep the ball, pass the ball with a possession type game and for me I am just learning and working on my technique with him.

“I am working on passing and crossing – everything in general. I am working with the coaches as well, so just all round I am learning.”

Tierney has started just six games for Arsenal as the club continue to manage the 22-year-old back to full fitness.

He has also been omitted from the last two Scotland squads at the request of Arsenal after the club put in place a full recovery programme.

It means Tierney will miss the upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers against Cyprus and Kazakhstan but he accepts the decision and is keen to rest up, also revealing Scotland are on board with the situation.

“They (Scotland) understand,” he added.

“Of course you want to play for your national team, but you need to do what is best for your career long-term.

“Tonight this my second game in five days so near the end I was tiring.

“It is probably the right decision as now I am going into the international break knowing I am getting a rest and recovery, because since my operation the load has gone up, up and up.

“To get a rest would be beneficial and hopefully for the next camp I’m ready.”