Mikel Arteta explains why he snagged Tavares as pundits slam ‘ruined’ Arsenal defender


ikel Arteta dismissed the idea that he replaced Nuno Tavares at half-time in Arsenal’s loss to Crystal Palace due to the player’s performance.

The Portuguese youngster lost Jordan Ayew for the Eagles’ second goal in Monday night’s 3-0 loss before his early exit, echoing the similar result on his last start against Nottingham Forest in January.

But Arteta insisted he snagged Tavares as a forward-thinking tactical change, to allow Gabriel Martinelli to come in and drop Emile Smith Rowe deeper.

“Today was just a tactical reason to explain how I wanted to do it with what Palace were doing and how we could attack and control the game much better in that position,” the Gunners boss explained.

“We wanted to put another attacking midfielder with Emile in that space and that was the only reason. I’m sorry it’s Nuno again, but we had to.

Pundits have lined up to criticize left-back Tavares, who cost £8million last summer and could be placed in the squad for a long time after Kieran Tierney was injured.

“He’s at fault for the second goal but it’s not just that goal,” Jamie Carragher told Sky Sports at half-time.

“It’s something you’re taught when you’re young, when you’re a defender you have to think that the person next to you is a model and a bad player.

“Tavares stops, Ayew keeps running because he thinks Gabriel is going to miss him, Tavares thinks he’s going to cut him, so he stops.”

Darren Bent agreed the 22-year-old has a lot to learn if his defensive skills are going to make a difference at Arsenal.

“I felt like I was in a time machine and watching Arsenal from the start of the season,” Bent said on talkSPORT.

“I saw Tavares play twice, I saw him go broke at Nottingham Forest and then again last night.

“And in the commentary Jamie Carragher called him, he said he had to come out at half-time and he did. He was completely ruined, he was out of position and not good enough on the ball.

“I know his reputation and people say, ‘He’s going to be a good player’ – but [there is a] drop-off when Kieran Tierney is not playing.

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