Many Arsenal fans were surprised to see Nuno Tavares keep his place in the team after his performance against Liverpool, and Mikel Arteta has explained his decision.
The Portuguese had impressed when filling in for the injured Kieran Tierney before the international break, and Nuno was rewarded for his performances by keeping his place in the team. Against Jurgen Klopp’s side however, he made some errors at the back and came in for scrutiny, including gifting Diogo Jota the ball in our own half before going on to score.
Despite coming in for criticism, the 21 year-old still kept his place to face Newcastle at the weekend despite Kieran Tierney having proved himself fully fit during the international break previously, and the boss has answered questions as to the reasoning why.
“It was a tricky one and after what happened at Anfield and some individual errors that we had, we have to be very careful with the messages that we send to our players,” he told reporters at the pre-match press conference (via Arsenal.com).
“I encourage my players to play with courage, to take risks, to make decisions and to be on the front foot and when they do that, if for any reason things don’t go our way or somebody makes a mistake, that’s when you have to show trust in the player because you want to build confidence and resilience.
“It’s not only for the player that’s playing, it’s also for the player that’s not playing to understand that part of that decision is to support and in their case, if it happens to them, I will do exactly the same thing.
“It’s something that we have to build and with young players even more, because if not, they can get very confused. I have full confidence in him.”
Tavares did extremely well in his most recent outing, but I can’t help but believe that Tierney will be coming in to face Man United tomorrow, although I did think that when we was facing Liverpool…
With us playing attacking football at present, we are probably suited by Nuno more than Tierney, with the former Benfica man’s pace and keenness to overlap with Saka proving frightening for defenders, as highlighted by them combining to break the deadlock at the weekend.
I still believe that Tierney is by far the more important player, with his leadership qualities and all-round game something that cannot be underestimated. With the Red Devils likely to play a more reserved game, you could argue for both player’s qualities to be better for our side.
Could Arteta keep Tierney on the bench again tomorrow? Could there be more to the manager’s decision?