Paul Merson backs Mikel Arteta to start under-fire star in Arsenal vs Brighton

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Paul Merson is backing Nuno Tavares to keep his place this weekend despite a disappointing performance earlier this week.

Tavares was dragged off at half-time on Monday night as the Gunners lost to Crystal Palace away from home.

And it caps a disappointing year for the former Benfica star, who was also pulled off in the first half of a Carabao Cup clash with Nottingham Forest earlier this season.

The 22-year-old has only made two Premier League appearances in the calendar year of 2022.

And following his most recent performance, he has received some intense criticism from a section of the Arsenal support.

Tensions are high in the Gunners’ bid for a top four, and so every bad performance comes under the microscope.

Tavares is the latest victim of that, but Gunners legend Merson is backing him to keep his place in the starting lineup this weekend, when Arsenal face Brighton.

“Nuno Tavares struggled against Palace but you have to understand that it’s hard for someone to come straight into these kinds of games and get going immediately,” he said in his Sportskeeda column.

MORE: Tavares breaks his silence over disappointing displays

“I felt a bit sorry for the bloke because he wasn’t playing for a bit and all of a sudden, he got thrust into the action.

“I think he’ll be alright in the weeks ahead and should keep his spot in the team in Kieran Tierney’s absence.”

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