Arsenal’s Kieran Tierney has been compared to former Gunners favourite Robert Pires after winning a controversial penalty in the win over Chelsea. Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville described Tierney as ‘clever’ after his tumble set Arsenal on their way to a 3-1 victory.
With the game at 0-0 between the London rivals, a surge into the box on the half hour mark saw Tierney get inside Chelsea full-back James.
As the two players came together, the Scotland International left-back appeared to be tripped by James and went to ground.
Referee Michael Oliver had little hesitation in pointing to the spot and the decision was upheld after a VAR check.
Television replays confirmed contact between the players but seemed to show that Tierney was the one who instigated the touch, as well as exaggerating his fall.
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“He’s gone over and Tierney’s thrown his leg back to Reece James.”
“Look, Reece James has been done and he should never have made that challenge. But he’s been played by Tierney.”
Alexandre Lacazette made no mistake from the penalty spot to give Arsenal the lead.
Speaking afterwards, Neville likened Tierney’s actions to that of former Gunners star Pires, who earned a reputation for winning fouls in a similar manner during his time in the Premier League.
The most famous example came in 2003 when Arsenal were 1-0 down to Portsmouth in a league match at Highbury.
After going down under a challenge from Pompey’s Dejan Stefanovic, Thierry Henry equalised from the spot as Arsenal went on to win the Premier League with an unbeaten record.
“Arsenal had one of the very best, Robert Pires brought it to the Premier League,” Neville said.
“He was a master at it – and it was very clever from Tierney.”
Granit Xhaka’s free kick doubled Arsenal’s lead before half-time before Bukayo Saka added a third after the break.
Tammy Abraham scored a consolation late on before Chelsea won a penalty of their own – only to be denied as Bernd Leno saved Jorginho’s effort.
When asked about the first half incident at full time, Tierney was coy on whether he thought he’d been fouled.
He said: “I felt contact when I went down, but I’ve not seen it back.”