Thursday, June 13, 2024

Arteta: Tavares needs to react, opportunity for him to learn

Will Nuno Tavares start at left-back when Brighton visit Emirates Stadium on Saturday?

In the absence of Kieran Tierney, it seems the logical choice. However, having not made it past half time in his two previous appearances – Monday’s defeat to Crystal Palace and January’s FA Cup exit at Nottingham Forest – we’re not entirely convinced that the Portuguese defender will get the nod.

When the press sat down with Mikel Arteta for his pre-game press conference on Friday, they seemed to have decided Tavares will play and were keen to learn how Arteta can get the summer signing to turn around his wayward form.

“Throughout your career, you have to go through some difficult moments. He had some really good periods when he arrived at the club and he was playing many more minutes than he was probably expecting. That’s not the development curve of a player. Especially at that age, it’s not like that, it’s very much with ups and downs and we’re to try to help him and make his career better. That’s what we want.

“He’s ready and he’s willing. He’ll be disappointed but it’s part of the job. We have to make decisions and try to win football matches. There’s nothing personal there [about substituting him].”

On how he repairs the confidence of a player who has twice been taken off early, Arteta said: “His confidence is probably because he wasn’t playing a lot of minutes, as well he wasn’t at his best. He needs the rhythm and the competition and the understanding with his teammates.

“We have to help him with that but at the end of the day, during a match, you have to decide if something can change the game, how can we make it better, and on Monday we made that decision.

He added: “Obviously, I speak with the players and I spoke with Nuno because I care a lot about how they feel and we are here to help them and make their careers better.

“That [being substituted on Monday] was a decision that hurt him but he understands that it was for the benefit of the team, that I believed it was for the benefit of the team, and he respects that. He needs to react to that situation because it’s a great opportunity to learn a lot in that period of your career.”

On the balance he needs to find between helping a young player grow while also ensuring Arsenal are as competitive as possible, Arteta said: “I don’t have one [young player], I have the youngest squad in the league, so it’s in many positions in many situations, I’ve experienced that. The best way to do that is give them belief and let them experience that when they are prepared to take the challenge.”

In addition to Tavares, Sambi Lokonga will be hoping he gets the chance to step into the void left by Thomas Partey. The Belgium international came off the bench to replace the Ghanaian at Selhurst Park and appears to have fended off a challenge from Mo Elneny to get minutes in the centre of the park.

The 22-year-old made 13 appearances in the league before Christmas but has featured just three times since the turn of the year.

“He played quite a lot in the first part of the season,” said Arteta.

“Obviously once you go to once a week [matches] because we don’t have European football, it’s more difficult to share the minutes because the minutes are less and there are players that haven’t had a lot of chances to play. It’s a great opportunity for them to show what they can do.”

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Arteta’s approach to youth is so divergent from Arsene’s – one accepted their mistakes and made them feel like they belonged, the other uses selection to create insecurity. I can see the theoretical merits of both approaches, but they both have to be judged on results.

Arsene’s approach worked great until young players started acting entitled after starting a few games or having one good season for the club. But it worked before it didn’t work. Has Arteta’s approach worked yet? Is there any player over-performing the level we thought they would in 2019?


Saka, Smith-Rowe, Martinelli?


First one was marked for stardom before Arteta, second and third could be better with a more supportive manager


How can you say they would be better with another manager? You have literally no evidence to back up this unsubstantiated claim.

For some reason people still seem keen to denigrate Arteta when we can all clearly see the benefits of allowing him time to work and supporting him properly. He may not even be as good a tactician as Emery but he can communicate with his players and appreciates the history of this club and the level at which it should be competing.

A Different George

You asked the question: “Is there any player over-performing the level we thought they would in 2019?” Did you honestly think in 2019 that Saka would be where is so soon? You expected Smith Rowe to play for England and Martinelli to be chosen by Brazil? I don’t think I had even heard of Tomiyasu then, but I wouldn’t have expected him to play as he has. Ramsdale? Come on. Gabriel–oh, I know, you could see he was sure to be a star. Ben White, on loan at wherever he was? I don’t know how much of the credit Arteta… Read more »

Heavenly Chapecoense

I think Arteta has been doing a good job lately and this needs to be recognized. However Smith-Rowe was neglected for almost two years under Arteta. It was wasted time for both the player and the club. Also something is off in Arteta’s management of Pépé that isn’t just about competition.


Saka – absolutely on a path to stardom well before Arteta, Emery gave him an early debut with good reason. When you have to point to Smith Rowe and Martinelli’s international experience, realise this – 1) getting picked for the international team is a slightly different story from maximising their potential for the club, and/especially because 2) young players who get picked up by Arsenal often make their international debut soon after, in part because the club is historically considered to be a good identifier of talent (but not necessarily maximising talent). Gabriel and Ben White cost significant amounts of… Read more »


It also bothers me that Xhaka is preferred to AMN and Sambi Lokonga, seemingly purely because of the latter’s youth. Even their inexperience doesn’t translate to mistakes as bad as Xhaka’s. And yet.


AMN? The player who has fallen out of favour at Roma after Mourinho went out of his ways to get him on loan? Sambi in his first season in the Premier League? Yes, Xhaka does have mistakes in him, but he’s been playing in the PL since 2016 and has more experience than Sambi and usually plays good with his national team. He also is one of the leaders on the pitch and in the dressing room, even if he isn’t wearing the captain’s armband. Sambi has the potential to become a better player than Xhaka, but you can only… Read more »


Mourinho is the worst manager on the planet at bringing through young players (last five words may be superfluous). AMN made a bad decision to go there, doesn’t change the fact he was mis-managed and under-utilised here. Sambi in his first season is readier for this league than Xhaka is now. He’s physically up to the pace of the game, has a basic sense of what’s happening around him, and doesn’t regularly let his ego run ahead of his ability. He will make mistakes, he could usefully under-study Partey or many other decent older midfielders we should have brought in… Read more »

Brady’s bunch

I like sambi a lot but he’s been absolutely rinsed a few games this season

Greg in Seattle

Because while Lokonga has upside, he still isn’t an actual an improvement on Xhaka in our setup? I see meritocracy, even in that situation. You are really reaching with this thesis.

The sooner we stop wishing AMN were better than he is, the better. He’s got to deal with squad status and make some kind of unexpected leap, because at this point his ceiling doesn’t look very high.

A Different George

So, I think this is just some sort of unchangeable dislike of Arteta. For me, it’s the mirror-image, and no more justified, than the over-the-top attacks that poisoned Wenger’s last years.

Heavenly Chapecoense

Guendouzi and Saliba are part of a national team that is by far the strongest in the world. They were selected by a coach who won the world cup and has an abundance of players to pick from. I think that more than his talent, Deschamps values the fighting spirit in Guendouzi which Arteta could have curbed and nurtured instead.

A Different George

My point was that no matter how complex the issue, no matter the different legitimate ways to look at something, you seem determined to view every problem as an example of Arteta’s shortcomings.

Remember the “supporters” shouting to Joel Campbell to “get out while you can” to escape Wenger’s management? Do you want to be the guy who shouts that about Arteta?


I’m a fan, I don’t want to dislike the manager. I liked him as a player. But I thought he got the job because he angled aggressively for it, and because the club wanted a convenient ‘face’ to justify under-performance. In the moment we won the FA Cup I was happy for us including him – I thought he’d use it as a springboard to refine his methods. Instead he used it as an endorsement to lean in to his worst tendencies. If he gets fourth, I dislike his management less. If he keeps progressing from there, I like him… Read more »

Heavenly Chapecoense

When did Arteta remove any of these three from two consecutive games?

Zadok the Regular Priest

Arteta doesn’t “use selection to create insecurity”. That’s such a gross oversimplification. He took Tavares off because he was playing like turd, and Arteta recognises the team and victory take precedence. Much like when Wenger subbed Eboue off against Wigan, incidentally. I know that we all love to see an interesting juxtaposition between two styles, and I think there is something interesting about Wenger and Arteta’s respective approaches to youth, but this is deliberately phrased in a way that suggests Arteta’s approach is worse when really there’s no sign that it is. Don’t let a single bad game cloud your… Read more »

Thierry Bergkamp (Xhaka Out)

Thumbs up for using the word “juxtaposition”.
I’m all for learning


Far from based on a single game, people have pointed out this tendency for a while. Again – I’m open to the possibility that it could work. Ferguson, for example, was harsher on young players than Wenger was, and it contributed to getting him results (along with a good sense of game management and lots of sweet sweet cash). It’s not just a matter of style, it’s a matter of implementation.

Man Manny

I’d play Tavares tomorrow. I suspect Arsenal will be doing more attacking than defending, and that would suit him.
Xhaka-Lokonga midfield seems settled.


Looks like he’s getting the nod tomorrow from the manager.

Fair enough.


Gabriel may be only slightly older, but being more experienced, he will need to talk and guide Nuno in the games, especially as a fellow Portuguese speaker. There was a lack of communication in Palace 2nd goal.

Thierry Bergkamp (Xhaka Out)

I think he should be given another start tomorrow. Playing at home with the crowds support might be good for him


He should play against Brighton, hopefully will get him back on track and restore his confidence. Sometimes, players just need to play themselves into form, I think that’s the case here.

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