Will Mustafi be up there with some of Arsenal’s best defenders from Arsene Wenger’s reign?
During 20 years at Arsenal, Arsene Wenger has had some fantastic defenders to go into the Arsenal starting eleven. The likes of Adams, Campbell and Keown are all certainly up there at centre back, but in more the latter years of his reign, the club has been far more weak in defence.
Laurent Koscielny for me will certainly go down as Arsenal’s best centre back in recent years, although he hasn’t exactly had much competition in his six years at the club. But now with the arrival of Shkodran Mustafi this season, could the French international finally have a club counterpart by his side?
Mustafi has been one of Arsenal’s best players this season, showing strength, collectiveness and a great number of defensive qualities so far during the campaign. Mustafi’s partnership next to Koscielny may still be young, and it is of course too early to tell if the partnership will last for the long run, but I’m fairly confident that the duo have tightened things up at the back. In the last few games alone, we have seen a difference in defending at Arsenal, especially against Chelsea last weekend and Basel in the week. The pair defended as a unit, but also worked well as individuals when a rare opportunity did open up for the opposition. Mustafi has been an excellent purchase for Arsene Wenger and again, although it is early days, I think he does have the potential to go on to be one of the very best at the back for Arsenal, certainly during Arsene Wenger’s time at the club anyway.
Wenger has been speaking about Mustafi’s instant impact at Arsenal ahead of this weekend’s match vs Burnley. Mustafi has played a few premier league games now and so he is certainly settled into the team alongside Koscielny, who himself is of course a world class centre back these days. Wenger said:
“He has the potential [to be a great defender for Arsenal], which is interesting at the moment. It is a bit too early to say, you have to be cautious when a guy has played only three or four games.
What makes me positive is he is focused, has the desire to do well, and is 24 years old. So for a central defender that is quite young. Let’s see how he survives in games like Sunday against Burnley, where it is a case of ‘Can I head the ball? Can I win the second ball?’ I would say I have a positive feeling.”
Wenger hits the nail on the head that it may have only been a few games for Mustafi, but he is already showing a lot of the qualities that Arsenal fans have been desperate to see at the back for years. I guess that’s what you get when you pay big money for players right Arsene? Personally I must admit I was a little skeptical about Wenger paying the reported £35 million for Mustafi, after all Mustafi did have impressive individual stats for a defender in LA Liga, but the Valencia defence he was playing in did look a little shaky as a unit and I thought we’d expect something more for reported £35 million t was going to cost the club. However Mustafi has showed that he seems to be worth every penny paid for him, especially at 24 years old, where he is only going to get better with experience.
Can Mustafi go on to become one of the Arsenal greats at centre back? Right now it’s far too early to tell, but the German international certainly does seem to have all the right pickings to direct him towards that elite group of players.