Has Mustafi improved under Arteta, or are we just awaiting his next calamitous mistake?
By Jack Skinner
With the arrival of Mikel Arteta at the club, and the timing of this arrival being on the eve of a transfer window, it appeared Shkodran Mustafi’s time at the club was coming to an end. After not featuring at all in the league under Emery after sustaining a disastrous previous campaign, he was limited merely to a handful of appearances in cup competitions under our former head coach. Rumours of Galatasaray and various other Turkish clubs wanting to prize the German international away from North London were reported, but nothing came to fruition and he remained an Arsenal player.
Arteta was left with little choice but to give Mustafi a lifeline. Calum Chambers unfortunately suffered a season ending injury, Rob Holding continued to suffer from fitness problems and Konstantinos Mavropanos was spat out to the German second division for a six-month loan spell. With only two senior centre halves in the squad, Arteta was forced to keep hold of the German international to allow for vital squad depth in this area.
Since being given the chance to try reignite his Arsenal career, Mustafi has shown signs of defensive improvement, as well as providing Arteta with an excellent distributor of the ball from deep.
Nevertheless, during our game against Chelsea, us fans were dreading the worst as his horrendous attempt to play it back to Leno was intercepted by Tammy Abraham, resulting in a David Luiz red card and a Chelsea penalty. We were led to believe that we were stuck with the perpetual recklessness, inconsistency and complacency of Mustafi. Despite this, Mustafi was able to maintain full focus and managed to produce a solid performance alongside auxiliary centre-back Granit Xhaka.
Mustafi is known to make mistakes. Throughout a game he can be solid for 89 minutes, and in an instance, he can make a stupid and rash decision that costs us the game. His constant errors have cost us many points in his time at Arsenal. Unfortunately for us, we have seen this from on a perpetual basis in his career at Arsenal, and will most likely continue to see it for the duration of his time at the club.
However, Mustafi does possess attributes and the skillset to be an effective player at this level. If he was able to eradicate his error prone nature (not sure he can), he’d be recognised as a good player for the club. Very strong in the air, a good passer of the ball from deep areas and is able to produce some crunching tackles- these strengths make it all the more infuriating when he produces these moments of madness.
Arteta appears to like the German, starting him in each of our last 4 games. His ability to play expansive passes in a possession based team is certainly a useful asset, and this appears to have endeared him to the Spaniard.
Whether Mustafi will be here in Arteta’s long-term plans is unknown, but we must continue to support the progressing German.