Mikel Arteta urges out-of-form Nuno Tavares to 'react' to Crystal Palace horror show with Tierney out for the season

MIKEL ARTETA has had a heart to heart with Nuno Tavares to make sure the youngster is up to helping Arsenal back into the top four.

The Portuguese left-back was subbed off at half-time during Monday’s damaging 3-0 defeat at Crystal Palace.

And he only managed 34 minutes before being hooked in his previous start against Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup.

But with Kieran Tierney out for the rest of the season after undergoing a knee operation, there will be no hiding place over the next nine games for the 22-year-old back-up who cost £7million when he was signed from Benfica last summer.

Arteta admitted: “I have spoken with Nuno because I care about how he feels and we are here to help him and make his career better.

“Obviously the decision on Monday hurt him but he understands that it was for the benefit of the team and there was nothing personal.

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“Everyone goes through difficult moments in their career and Nuno has already had some good moments since he arrived at the club.

“He played more minutes than he was probably expecting earlier in the season and now he needs to react to this situation because he has a great opportunity to learn a lot.

“His confidence probably wasn’t the best against Palace because he hadn’t been playing a lot and he needed the rhythm, the competition and the understanding with his team-mates.

“He was ready and willing to play and he will be disappointed at being taken off, but we made a decision to try to change the game and he respects that.”

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Albert Sambi Lokonga is also in line to come out from the cold this afternoon to deputise in midfield for the injured Thomas Partey.

And Arteta explained: “We ask the players to be at their best in training all the time so the minute we need them they are ready to give everything for the team.

“That’s why you have to prepare well, every single day, so when you have the opportunity to step up, you are able to take it.

“Sambi played a lot of games in the first part of the season and he did well, but because we don’t have European football it’s been difficult to give more chances to play.

“But this is an opportunity for him to show what we can do.”

Monday’s defeat leaves Arsenal trailing fourth-placed Spurs on goal difference and with their fans suddenly terrified at the prospect of losing out to their bitter rivals for the last Champions League spot.

But with nine games still to play, Arteta is not going to join in the panic and says: “We could see that reaction coming and the players could sense the change in spirit and energy around the club.

“They have been performing really well, but when a lot of things happen in the week it’s more complicated and we have to learn from what happened on Monday.

“The expectations of our supporters have risen and we have to manage that.

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“But it’s great. It’s much better than being in a completely different position.

“So it’s our job and our responsibility to be aware of what is expected and to embrace that challenge.”

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