Mikel Arteta has revealed that he has held talks with Nuno Tavares after taking him off at half time during Monday night’s 3-0 defeat to Crystal Palace in the Premier League. The 22-year-old was weak when challenging for the ball from a free-kick which allowed Joachim Andersen to set up Jean-Philippe Mateta’s opener on the night and was then caught flat-footed as he failed to anticipate Gabriel’s mistake in the build-up to Jordan Ayew’s second and was hooked in favour of Gabriel Martinelli at the break.
“Today it was just a tactical reason,” said Mikel Arteta of the decision in his post-match press conference on Monday. “How I wanted to do it with what Palace were doing there and how we could attack and control the game much better in that position, put another attacking midfielder with Emile in that position. I’m sorry that it was Nuno again but we had to do it.”
This is not the first time Tavares has been taken off early after he was subbed just 35 minutes into his last start for the Gunners during their 1-0 defeat to Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup third round. He took to social media on Thursday afternoon to reveal his reaction to being hauled off at Selhurst Park.
“Monday was an extremely frustrating night for me personally, for the team and the fans,” he said on Twitter. “It’s important to pick ourselves up, learn from the mistakes and react positively for Saturday’s game. Still a lot to fight for. COYG.”
Tavares’ confidence is thought to be pretty low at the minute, but Arteta revealed in his press conference ahead of Saturday’s match with Brighton that he had held talks with the Portuguese defender to explain his decision. “Obviously I speak with the players and I spoke with Nuno because I care a lot how they feel,” the Spaniard said.
“We are to help them and make their careers better. That was a decision that hurt him obviously, but he understands that it was for the benefit of the team, that I believed it was for the benefit of the team. He respects that and now he needs to react to that situation because it’s a great opportunity to learn a lot in that period of your career.”
Arteta does have several options if he feels Tavares is not ready to play at left back against Brighton. Granit Xhaka was shifted into the position on Monday night, while Cedric and Bukayo Saka have played there too in the past. However, the Arsenal boss appeared to imply that he could be set to stick with Tavares as he is forced to adapt his starting line up, with Kieran Tierney now ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee injury.
“Throughout your career you have to go through difficult moments,” Arteta said. “He had a good period when he arrived at the club and played more minutes than he was expecting. He’s ready and he’s willing. He will be disappointed. There is nothing personal there.”