Mikel Arteta says he didn’t like having to substitute Nuno Tavares before half time of Sunday’s 1-0 defeat to Nottingham Forest but he’s sure the full-back will learn from the experience having gone through something similar during his own playing days.
After a shaky start to the match, which included a few misplaced passes, the Portugal under-21 international was hauled off 10 minutes before the break to be replaced by Kieran Tierney. Understandably, the player was unhappy and showed his disapproval by chucking his gloves on the ground before taking up his place on the bench.
The way the situation played out was all the more surprising given Arteta had shown patience with the player earlier in the season. Off the back of an error-ridden performance against Liverpool, the youngster was expected to be dropped but ended up starting ahead of Tierney when Newcastle visited the Emirates a week later.
“These things happen in football,” said Arteta of Sunday’s decision. “I’m there to make the right decisions to get the best performance out of the team. It’s not pleasant to make those decisions. It leaves you a bad taste but at the same time, we are here to help our players.
“To help our players you have to do it in many different ways and hopefully, that’s one way. Certainly, we want to support our players, we want to help them. The fact you have to make a decision on the day, from my side, it gives me more encouragement to help them.
“I’ve been there. I’ve been substituted at 45 minutes and I’ve been upset or made wrong decisions in my life. It’s part of a process and a development phase in any career. It’s part of your [life] experiences.
“Some experiences, unfortunately, they don’t have to be pleasant. But most of those, you take them the right way, they are really the ones that help you and to become a better person or player.”
Keen to focus on the good things that Tavares has done at Arsenal since signing from Benfica in the summer, Arteta, leaning on his own experience, stressed the player’s reaction was not worth dwelling on.
“I was upset and [thought] the coach is wrong and this is not fair. This is normally the reaction. With Nuno, I didn’t get that reaction at all, that’s it. For me, it’s just a moment, move on and focus on all the good things that he’s done since he’s been here and that’s it.
On whether he wants his players to be angry when they’re substituted, he added: “That’s a really personal thing, it’s not what you prepare, it’s something that you don’t train. It comes as an emotional moment and is [linked] to the character of the player.”