Having looked a bit shaky at Liverpool, many expected Nuno Tavares to be replaced by Kieran Tierney when Arsenal faced Newcastle last Saturday.
The Scot, a mainstay in the starting XI when fit last season, was waiting for the nod having recovered from injury, but it never came. Instead, Arteta stuck with his summer signing from Benfica and was fully rewarded as the left-back produced a swashbuckling performance that was rewarded with an assist for Bukayo Saka.
Tavares wasn’t the only fresh face to retain his place despite Anfield nerves. Sambi Lokonga, who was subbed off in the second half of the 4-0 defeat against the Reds, was also given a chance to redeem himself. He too delivered the goods.
Ahead of his side’s trip to Manchester United, Arteta explained his thinking.
“It was a tricky one,” he said of the conversation with Tierney. “After what happened at Anfield, and some individual errors that we had, we had to be very careful with the messages that we send to the players.
“I encourage my players to play with courage, to take risks, to make decisions and to be on the front foot. When they do that and, if for any reason things don’t go our way or somebody makes a mistake, that’s where you have to show trust in the player because you want to build confidence and resilience.
“It’s not only for the player who is playing but it’s for the player who is not playing to understand that part of that decision is to support and recognise that if it were to happen to them, I’d do the same thing.
“It’s something that we have to build. With young players even more because if you don’t, they can become very confused.”
Having struggled when key players were sidelined by injury last season – namely Tierney and Granit Xhaka – Arteta is clearly pleased that his squad now has more depth. He maintains that meritocracy will reign when he picks his teams.
“That’s the level that we want to achieve that in every position we have players that can perform at the highest level and complement each other by giving you different qualities.
“Last year, when we had the issue with Kieran and he was out for a while we had to invent and put players in that position and that’s something that we want to eradicate as much as possible.
“That’s why we made the decision that we made in the summer, to try to fill the gaps that we had and to make the team stronger. It’s only that.
“Kieran hasn’t played in a lot of games because he was still injured and in others, once Nuno played and he played well, I think he deserved a chance to continue playing.”