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Martin Keown shares Kieran Tierney vision and issues Emile Smith Rowe challenge

Martin Keown was unsurprised to see Kieran Tierney causing England problems at Wembley on Friday evening and has backed the Scotland international to continue setting standards at Arsenal.

Tierney missed out on Scotland’s first Euro 2020 fixture against Czech Republic due to injury and was a big miss for Steve Clarke’s side as they suffered a 2-0 defeat.

But the 24-year-old was back to face England yesterday evening and put in a fine performance for his country.

Keown is backing the left-back to become a ‘match-winner’ for the Gunners moving forward and believes the former Celtic defender will be a guaranteed starter regardless of the club’s summer transfer activity.

Tierney impressed for Scotland in Friday’s draw at Wembley

“He’s very important because he stands up in the big games. He has been really important to Arsenal. He is a tough player who sets the standards – and that’s what you want. You want winners, and it was really important to Scotland that he came in last night. He was getting forward quite a lot, he also intercepted really well and drove through the middle with the ball, creating a problem for England,” Keown told the Mirror.

“He’s a player that Arsenal will be looking to keep and will hope he can stay injury-free. He missed the first game at Euro 2020, so staying fit has been an issue for him.

“He was signed by Unai Emery, and he was probably his best signing.”

Asked if Tierney will be one of the first names on the teamsheet for Arsenal next season, Keown added: “For sure. He is the shoe-in in that Arsenal back-four.

“Then you start looking at the rest: Bellerin hasn’t signed a contract, who are the two centre-halves? If you’re going to start a team build, you know that the left-back berth is fine. You have someone there that you can rely on. He can be a match-winner. Of course, you’ve got Aubameyang and Lacazette is a player that I think is a really good influence on the youngsters.

“It’s very much about the team building for Arsenal. In every compartment of the pitch, they need to spend money to bring new players in.”

Though not involved at Euro 2020, Emile Smith Rowe is another player Keown is predicting to have a big future.

Do you think Smith Rowe could become a future England star? Comment below.

Smith Rowe and Tierney have both performed well under Mikel Arteta
Smith Rowe and Tierney have both performed well under Mikel Arteta

The Croydon-born midfielder has made huge progress under Mikel Arteta and will now be setting his sights on pushing for a place at the next European Championships in 2024.

“Well, that has to be the goal for Smith Rowe,” admitted the Arsenal icon.

“I do like him. I’ve said right from the off what a very good player he is and I wanted to make sure he had a pathway into that team. He has shown he has got the ingredients to be a top player, due to his intelligence and quality on the ball. Him and Saka were very much the talking point for Arsenal.

The 20-year-old has attracted interest from Aston Villa
The 20-year-old has attracted interest from Aston Villa

“The World Cup could be too soon. Let’s see how that develops, it is a big season for him. The World Cup is 18 months away, so that’s something that is achievable – particularly as Gareth Southgate likes to involve the young players.

“That’s an area of the pitch where there is a lot of competition, but Smith Rowe is a player I really like. He is very mature, his defensive compass is very good, he sets the tone for pressing from midfield and has brought something else to Arsenal that they didn’t quite have before.”

Martin Keown is an ambassador for McDonald’s Fun Football programme, which is giving thousands of children the chance to play football for free this summer.

Arsenal and England legend Martin Keown is calling on families to sign up for McDonald's free Fun Football sessions, which will get thousands of children playing football this summer. To find a local session go to: mcdonalds.co.uk/football
Arsenal and England legend Martin Keown is calling on families to sign up for McDonald’s free Fun Football sessions, which will get thousands of children playing football this summer. To find a local session go to: mcdonalds.co.uk/football

“We’re helping these young children take their first steps into the game. There’s a lot of excitement and some really good technique on show,” Keown told the Mirror.

“I live in Oxford and have always felt there has been a clamour for football.

“I’ve been involved in these projects for a number of years now because I believe in what McDonalds and the FA want to do, and that is developing grassroots football. It’s about giving back and recognising the role that these volunteers fulfil up and down the country in developing young footballers.”




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