It has been a significant summer this year in terms of incoming transfers at Arsenal. The Gunners obtained the services of defender Gabriel Magalhaes, defensive midfielder Thomas Partey, winger Willian and replaced the departed Emiliano Martinez with Runar Alex Runarsson as the number two goalkeeper. They also extended the loan of midfielder Dani Ceballos from Real Madrid by another year, as well as the contract of defender David Luiz, and turned the previous loan spells of defenders Pablo Mari and Cedric Soares into permanent ones. But perhaps the most impotant piece of business of all was captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang signing a new contract. Arsenal reportedly made a late effort to bring in Houssem Aouar from Olympique Lyon, but that did not come through.
According to football.london, Shkodran Mustafi rejected an offer of a new contract from Arsenal during the summer and told the club he will leave at the end of the season.
The 28-year-old defender arrived to the Emirates from Valencia back in 2016 for a considerable fee, reportedly amounting to £ 35 million. His time at the club has been full of ups and downs with his form rarely showing any signs of consistency. He could play a fantastic game one week and then follow it up with a shambolic performance the next. Capable of playing on either side of the centre-back pairing, he has also been known to step in as a right-back, particularly in the final stages of 2018/19 when Unai Emery lost his faith in Stefan Lichtsteiner while Hector Bellerin was injured. Overall, the Germany international has made 143 appearances for the Gunners in all competitions, scoring nine goals.
Having lost narrowly to Manchester City in the Premier League on Saturday, Arsenal are preparing for a trip to Vienna where they will take on Rapid in the opening round of this season’s Europa League campaign on Thursday. Meanwhile, let’s take around at some recent news reports concerning the club.
Rob Holding was pulled out of the starting line-up on Saturday due to an injury suffered in the warm-up process. The 24-year-old defender has had some serious issues during his career, and any sign of a problem is likely to cause worry for Mikel Arteta, especially given that he’s been on a fine run of form lately. He came close to leaving to join Newcastle United on loan during the summer transfer window, but the move eventually fell through.
Mikel Arteta has indeed instilled a new sense of team play since he stepped into the Emirates dugout, there can be no doubt about that. However, the defeat in the North-London Derby on Sunday has highlighted the same problems the Gunners have been struggling with for a very long time.
Arteta has indeed increased Arsenal’s ability to control games. The high possession percentage from the Derby (62%) backs that up, albeit with a slight reservation given that Tottenham Hotspur boss Jose Mourinho rarely ever cared about his teams seeing more of the ball. But once again it mostly comes down to individual mistakes.
Shkodran Mustafi is open to the possibility of staying with Arsenal past the summer, feeling that he has managed to rebuild his relationship with the club’s supporters, as revealed by the Evening Standard.
The 27-year-old defender has been on the brink of departure for a long time having failed to impress. His mistakes have often cost Arsenal points, and that has, naturally, led the supporters to lose faith in his quality. Many, including us here, have openly declared Mustafi not good enough to represent a club aiming for the top end of the Premier League, but it seems the centre-back is finally doing the best he can to prove otherwise. Since Mikel Arteta took over from interim boss Freddie Ljungberg, Mustafi has been given another chance ahead of the likes of Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Rob Holding, and his performances have taken an upwards trajectory. Against Olympiacos in the Europa League round of 32 on Thursday, he was nothing short of fantastic.
Pointing fingers has always been a popular thing for people to do in this game, because it’s often much easier than accepting any of the blame. However, in certain instances, the finger pointing is more than worth it – especially when it comes to Shkodran Mustafi.
The controversial defender was back in the starting XI for the game against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, with the hope being that he would be able to rise above the criticisms he’s been receiving as of late by putting in a decent shift. If you watched his second half performance and nothing else, then you could argue that he had a good game. Aside from that, though, there wasn’t really all too much to scream and about, unless you were doing so in frustration.
“I managed to try to block it out a little bit. I was not that active on social media and wasn’t reading comments, I wasn’t too concerned about social media, I just wanted to go back on the pitch and give everything because I knew that in this moment I was not playing the football I know I could play.
I was just talking with the closest people around me like my family, my parents, my wife, my kids, and this helped me to forget about everything. In the morning when I was coming to training, I would just focus on the training and then go back home to spend time with my family. I tried not to read too much stuff that people were saying.
There has been an awful lot of speculation as to whether or not Shkodran Mustafi is going to be leaving Arsenal any time soon. However, there hasn’t really been all too much talk about Mustafi – the man himself, and how he’s doing. He’s had to deal with a great deal of abuse online over the last year or so, and in this feature, he talks about that and so much more.
“We’re only human and we can’t switch off our brains, it’s always going to be there. Once you’ve read criticism – good or bad – it’s going to stay there.
As Arsenal succumbed to a 1-2 defeat at the hands of Chelsea at the Emirates on Sunday, it was Shkodran Mustafi’s turn to have his performance dissected and analysed far and wide.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang struck early to give the Gunners the lead, only to see it overturned by late goals by Jorginho and Tammy Abraham. And while most of Mikel Arteta’s team played relatively well for almost the entire game, the nerves of Mustafi weren’t easy to miss.
On Frankfurt’s style of play:
SM: Frankfurt is a team with a coach who has a very good identity. You can tell their idea of the game and how they want to play. Nothing is random, they’re very coordinated. Even if you know how they play, you can’t always anticipate it as a defender. If you anticipate their attacking moves, you may open up different spaces for them to capitalise on. It’s a team with attacking strengths so you have to be focused for 90 minutes. They don’t hog possession without gaining any space. They’re very organised on the ball and want to get it back as soon as possible. It’s hard to play against teams like these. It’s not easy.