There was surprise in some quarters that Nuno Tavares started Saturday’s match at Newcastle after a difficult match previously at Anfield.
But the Portuguese left back rewarded Mikel Arteta’s faith in him with a typically energetic display, and our manager said it was a very deliberate act of faith in the player.
“It was a tricky one and after what happened at Anfield and some individual errors that we had, we have to be very careful with the messages that we send to our players,” he said.
“I encourage my players to play with courage, to take risks, to make decisions and to be on the front foot and when they do that, if for any reason things don’t go our way or somebody makes a mistake, that’s when you have to show trust in the player because you want to build confidence and resilience.
“It’s not only for the player that’s playing, it’s also for the player that’s not playing to understand that part of that decision is to support and in their case, if it happens to them, I will do exactly the same thing.
“It’s something that we have to build and with young players even more, because if not, they can get very confused. I have full confidence in him.”
Tavares and Kieran Tierney are locked in a battle for the left back spot, and Arteta believes the competition will bring the best out of them both.
“That’s the level that we want to achieve, that in every position we have players that can perform at the highest level and can complement each other by giving you different qualities as well,” he said.
“Last year when we had an issue with Kieran, when he was out for a while, we had to invent and play players in that position, and that’s something that obviously 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 have and make the team stronger. It’s only about that. Kieran hasn’t played in a lot of games because he was still injured and in others, because once Nuno played and played well, I think he deserved the chance to continue playing.”