Thursday, June 20, 2024

“That’s when you have to show trust” – Arteta on picking Tavares over Tierney

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.”

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He was great versus Newcastle, best game he’s played for us (admittedly agaisnt weaker oppo).

Gunn Cabinet

I’d rather have this kind of headache than having to re-position Saka or Xhaka each time our left back is out for a while. What I do not understand is why we fans have to wonder the fate of a benched player each time his replacement does well. Pep is always changing his team, week in, week out but you don’t hear questions about the futures of his players. Top teams need top players and top replacements. If Ramsdale and Leno, Tierney and Nuno are pushing each other’s limits and raising each other’s levels of performances – good for them.… Read more »


Good point. Having said that there is always speculation about the future of players in City. Bernardo Silva, Sterling, Jesus, Zinchenko, Stones, Laporte have all gone through it.

Cranky Colin

And now Grealish


A lot of fans think about teams in terms of its strongest XI instead of the strength of its squad. Best squads will have at least two good options for every position.


no qualms about Tierney not making the squad. Its a long season and I am sure he will be back before long. Vs Newcastle the scot was the only one in the whole stadium walking around in half sleeves, shorts, no golves and acting like he is on the beach. It was brilliant.

Teryima Adi


John C

I’ve been really impressed with Tavares and one of the things rarely mentioned is by replacing Tierney and Bellerin with Tavares and Tomiyasu the physical composition of our back 4 has been totally transformed. We’re no longer easily pushed around with those two, and that changes the whole dynamic of the team.

Tierney will get his chance again and will probably benefit with the rest he’s getting at the moment.

King 14enry

To be fair, Tierney isn’t exactly a featherweight. Tomi is definitely an upgrade on Bellerin in that aspect, but I can’t recall ever coming away from a match thinking that Tierney got bullied physically all afternoon.

I think the bigger upgrade is in CM. Partey and Sambi are big upgrades physically on guys like Torreira and Ceballos.

John C

I agree, Tierney isn’t bullied but i think Tavares has the ability to assert himself on the opposition in a way that KT can’t. But overall we definitely have a more physically robust team than at any point in the last 15 years which is nice to see.


The thing about tavares you can see glimpses of his quality and get a taste of levels he can reach. He has the ceiling to be the best in some years. Tierney has the same ceiling. What a wonderful position for our club. We need more of this in other roles in the team. Tomiyasu needs the same challenge but the way he applies himself you don’t have to worry about complacency. I only think he’s a tad bit conservative sometimes and will need time to bed in. We really need a proper and consistent striker & odegard to step… Read more »


Can’t fault any of those statements tbh. Onwards and upwards! Football is so crazy that Tavares is probably currently worth more than 40 mil. Didn’t we get him for like 8?


Whatever ultimately happens with Arteta at Arsenal, this is top quality stuff from him, and it suggests he’s a great player’s coach behind the scenes, just as he was reported to be at City.


Tierney, is a great addition to the side, not only in skill but in attitude. He is however, injured frequently. This is either unlucky or has an underlying root cause (style of play, frequency of matches, physical attributes, etc.). If you take the latter in that there is an underlying root cause, then giving him additional time to recover from latest injury set or other is not the worst strategy.
I am more impressed with the ‘no blame’ philosophy to bring on a more courageous approach, albeit, don’t continually muck up, but the odd one is ok.

Teryima Adi

Nuno is the real deal.

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