While it’s not particularly nice to single out players for criticism, sometimes, it’s warranted. A perfect case in point would be Shkodran Mustafi, who put in a series of poor performances towards the end of last season that you could argue cost Arsenal in a big way. Even if you don’t agree with that, it certainly doesn’t seem like he’s going to be able to break into the first team anytime soon.
Arsenal manager Unai Emery has revealed that he has had talks with Shkodran Mustafi about the defender leaving the Emirates this summer.
Since the Spaniard took over from Arsene Wenger a year ago, it’s fair to say that Mustafi has had quite enough opportunities to convince the new boss that his future lies with the Gunners, and there can now be very little doubt that he has failed to do so. Laurent Koscielny was out injured for the first half of last season, Rob Holding for the second. Even the absence of Hector Bellerin at right-back provided the German with a chance as Emery made it quite clear towards the end of the campaign that he wasn’t counting on Stephan Lichtsteiner anymore. But nothing Mustafi has done on the pitch seems to have helped his cause.
We all know that football can be a pretty unforgiving game even at the best of times, to the point where a series of bad displays can destroy your career in the blink of an eye. Of course, that might be us being a little bit overdramatic, but we’ve all seen a player fall from grace before. It’s hardly anything new, and depending on who you support, it can happen quite frequently.
Most people are aware of the popular 1990’s movie starring Bill Murray called Groundhog Day where a grouchy, TV reporter revisits the same day over-and-over again until he changes his ways.
Arsenal fans stuck in their own Groundhog Day
Unfortunately, Arsenal fans seem to be stuck in their very own Groundhog Dog when it comes to their teams’ terrible away displays. Unfortunately, there is no signs of Arsenal changing their ways anyway soon.
The latest debacle came in a 3-1 defeat at Wolves on Wednesday night. The home side was leading 3-0 at half-time.
A short and simple message to Shkodran Mustafi.
It’s been an emotional journey, but after three years, it’s time to go. It seemed like this could be a positive step forward for Arsenal’s defensive problems at the time, but now, it’s evident that it wasn’t. The one thing we know for sure it this: Mustafi isn’t an elite level Premier League player, and the loss against Crystal Palace proved it.
According to the Metro, reported Arsenal target Manchester United’s Eric Bailly is now surplus to requirements at Old Trafford, which means the centre-back could be on the move in the summer.
The Metro reports suggest that the United hierarchy is set to back boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with a transfer kitty of around £200million in the summer. With that sort of cash, the Red Devils can afford to bring in a new centre-back with Tottenham’s Toby Alderweireld once again linked with a move to the north west.
For too long now, Arsenal have had a clear defensive weakness at centre-back. Former boss Arsene Wenger failed to fix it and current boss Unai Emery has been unable to fix the problem so far. However, to be fair to the Spaniard his reign in north London is in its infancy and he has not had much backing in the transfer market or time to sort the problem.
Centre-backs are not good enough
The simple fact is Arsenal’s centre-backs are not good enough. Experienced French centre-back Laurent Koscielny has been the Gunners best centre-back for a long time. However, injuries and the fact that he is the wrong side of 30 mean he will need replacing in the near future.
On Wednesday night, Arsenal host north London rivals Tottenham at the Emirates Stadium in the last eight of the Carabao Cup.
The Gunners head into this clash on the back of a 3-2 defeat at Southampton that ended their 22-game unbeaten record in all competitions. This competition would not usually be high on the Arsenal priority list. However, the fact that the opponents are Tottenham gives this an extra edge.
Arsenal were defeated finalists in last year’s competition, as they were beaten 3-0 at Wembley by Manchester City. The Gunners will at least be looking to make it to the last four of the competition this season.
Arsenal may have extended their unbeaten run to 21 games in all competitions against Huddersfield on Saturday, but there was also a downside to the win, as both Sokratis and Shkodran Mustafi picked up suspensions.
Add the pair to Rob Holding sidelined through injury and the Gunners are left with very few central defensive options.
Who are the Gunners central defensive options?
The return to the squad and fitness of French centre-back Laurent Koscielny could not have come a better time. Gunners boss Unai Emery has allowed the veteran defender time to recover from a long-term injury.
According to former Arsenal hero and Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson, nothing has changed defensively at Arsenal since the summer appointment of Spanish boss Unai Emery.
Nothing has changed defensively
Merson told Sky Sports: “It looks like an Arsene Wenger team defensively, and they have always been irresistible going forward on their day,”
“I think they will get turned over by a couple of smaller teams and I don’t see them beating the big ones.
“I don’t think they were good at the start of the season. They went on a great run, but defensively they will get found out. Nothing has really changed at the back.”