Mikel Arteta must solve left-back dilemma to prevent Arsenal’s season unravelling

From Selhurst Park – It wasn’t as bad as when he was dragged out after 34 minutes against Nottingham Forest in January, but Nuno Tavares’ performance when Crystal Palace played Arsenal on Monday night will have been even more worrying for Mikel Arteta.

From the start, it was clear that the 22-year-old, recruited by the injured Kieran Tierney, was extremely uncomfortable.

Even when facing off against Jordan Ayew, who was starting his first match at the Palace since February, Tavares defended madly, moving his limbs almost randomly as his opponents brushed past him. Positionally, things were equally fishy.

The low water mark of his defensive display was the part he played in Palace’s first goal. While he wasn’t the only Arsenal player to blame here, with the usually flawless Gabriel retracting his head like a timid tortoise at exactly the wrong moment, Tavares should have and could have done much more to prevent Joachim Andersen will head the ball without looking. The trajectory of striker Jean-Philippe Mateta.

Unfortunately for the young man, his struggles weren’t limited to his own half either. Whenever he ventured forward, his passes rarely hit the target and one inadvertently started one of Palace’s many dangerous counterattacks. Also, not a single one of his four forward long balls found his mark.

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