Friday, February 3, 2023

REVEALED: Takehiro Tomiyasu admits he doesn't like facing aggressive Arsenal team-mate in training

Takehiro Tomiyasu has admitted he does not like facing Gabriel Martinelli in Arsenal training because “he never stops”.

Martinelli, 21, has established himself as one of Arsenal’s most important players. The winger has scored seven Premier League goals this season to help Mikel Arteta’s side go five points clear of Manchester City at the top of the table with a game in hand.

As a full-back, one of Tomiyasu’s jobs in training is to mark Martinelli. That is not an easy task, as the Brazilian is regarded as one of the most exciting youngsters in the Premier League. Martinelli was even included in his country’s squad for the World Cup in Qatar.

Tomiyasu, 24, was asked by GOAL to name the one Arsenal player he would not like to face in a competitive game. He replied: “Gabriel Martinelli. He never stops.”

Safe in the knowledge that Martinelli is on his team, Tomiyasu accompanied his reply with a smile. The defender added: “He has pace, aggression. He’s still young, but when he has the ball he wants to make the difference, he wants to do something.”

Tomiyasu, who has won 32 senior caps for Japan, was signed by Arsenal from Italian side Bologna in August 2021. He quickly became an important member of Arsenal’s starting XI but was restricted to just 21 Premier League appearances last term due to injury.

Tomiyasu has also struggled for minutes this season due to Ben White’s form at right-back. White played alongside Gabriel Magalhaes at centre-back last term but took Tomiyasu’s spot after William Saliba returned from his loan spell at Marseille last summer.

Tomiyasu has admitted it is difficult not playing as frequently as he would like but insists his primary aim is to support the team. He added: “You have to accept the reality. Ben White has been doing very well. He is fantastic.

“Of course I want to play from the start. The only thing I can do is prove my value on the pitch and show what I can do. I just want to help the team. It doesn’t matter if I’m playing from the start or not. When I’m on the pitch I give everything.”

There is a very good chance Tomiyasu would return to Arsenal’s starting line-up if White, Magalhaes or Saliba suffered an injury – such is his glowing reputation at the Emirates. The versatile Tomiyasu is also capable of playing at centre-back or left-back.

“Tomi has been playing left centre-back for his national team Japan,” said Arteta last September. “When you look at the games, he can play as a left-back too, because you cannot tell me if he’s a left or right-footed player.

“So we have the options there [in defence], and we have to utilise them in the best possible way. Especially with the number of minutes we are going to have in the next few weeks, and it’s great that players are comfortable doing more than one position.”

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