Arsenal Debate – Has Mustafi now been fully forgiven?

Arsenal’s much-maligned centre-back Shkrodan Mustafi was expected to be sold by Unai Emery in the summer, but he failed to find a club and was left languishing on the bench from the beginning of this season.

Once Emery was sacked, Mustafi was given a reprieve by Mikel Arteta and reintroduced to the squad, and his performances have improved massively and it appears he is becoming a valuable member of the team again.

Mustafi has now spoken publicly about how difficult those times were, and how his kids kept him sane. He told the Guardian: “If you think things are over for you, then you should retire,”

“That’s not like you should think as a professional. You always get the opportunities and a team has more than 20 players for a reason.

“The main thing for me was to be professional because as long as you stay professional, you have no fault for anything. Stay professional, wait until you get your next opportunity and then obviously you have to take it.”

“In the beginning of the season, not being selected, not making the squad, it has been difficult,”

“But I am a person who tries to see more the positive things than the negatives. I think that helped me a lot. Having my family around me – my kids, my wife – because life is not only football. That’s something I kept remembering to myself. Being in training every day, playing a lot of games, you get a lot of attention but still at the end of the day I am a father of two kids and I try to focus on this as well.”

His contract at Arsenal expires in 18 months, and he is now even talking about the possibility of extending that. “I have always taken things day by day,” he said. “I always gave everything until the last minute and when I decide or when the club and I decide it is going to continue I am happy to continue. If not then we have to go forward.”

Things have certainly changed defensively under Arteta, and we now have 5 clean sheets in 9 games, with Mustafi being an integral part of the back line.

So do you think he has now been totally forgiven, or do you think he should be allowed to leave next summer?

36 Comments

  1. kenno says:

    i for one used to rate mustafi. i could see his errors but in me i thought this has skill and is not a defensor by mistake but needs a coach that can focus on him and help him sort out these silly errors he makes sometimes. giving aways balls easily to opponents as if he is panic mode always angered me yet besides i felt he could be better. Wenger had one weakeness that i believe was his greatest nemesis. i wonder whether he talked to defenders on how to defend cause we had defensive problems for over 10years under him.

  2. Francis says:

    Some of the current CB s at Arsenal will be moved on in the summer…. whether Mustafi is a part of that only time will tell…. any way it is a good thing that Mustafi is showing some form because if the board decide to move him on he will have suitors and we might get some decent transfer fee for him…. that was not the case last summer

  3. chukzenith says:

    If he is playing in a team that gets to win clean, why let him leave, that’s a risk..

    There should be patient with everyone.. If we support them a little, they can always improve and become better….

    The first thing is to make the team stable, doing all they are doing as a group/team, helping each other..

    Please keep our team, if there is any reason to improve the team, please do…
    Whether they stay or leave should be the manager’s decision…

    I trust MA for now

  4. AndersS says:

    For so many years, we have seen CB’s coming to Arsenal and looking good in the beginning, and then slowly being turned into “donkeys”. Mustafi is the perfect example, but you could name several from the latest 8-10 years.
    The whole problem originates from lack of defensive organization in midfield and not having the whole team doing their part, when we lost the ball. Result: Too much pressure on the defense.
    Now there are definite signs of better defensive organization and suddenly our defenders are improved players 🙂

    1. Godswill says:

      Yes they are looking good because of the system brought about by the coach.

  5. ACE says:

    Even at his lowest moments under
    Emery I always believed that there
    was quality in the much maligned
    German. With a rededication to the
    art and joy of defending Arteta has
    reinvogorated Mustafi’s career and
    the former Valencia man IMHO
    should continue to be one of the first
    names on the Arsenals team sheet
    as the season progresses. His recent
    form has rightly reduced both
    Socratis and Holding to being
    interested bystanders and quite
    frankly expendable by seasons end.
    If Mustafi continues to excel and even
    exceeds the expectations of MA and
    Raul then he deserves the oppirtunity
    to be Arsenals first choice CB for years
    to come. Instead of forking over an
    obscene amount of money for the
    likes of Koulibay, Upamecano,
    Kontae, Godfrey, etc Arsenal could
    shift there focus to other areas on the
    pitch and aggressively upgrade the
    existing talent. A midfield destroyer
    like Thomas Partey and creative
    tailsman lile Housan Aour come to
    mind.

    Its in Mustafis capable boots whether
    he has a career in North London. I
    will be one cheering him on

  6. Counsel says:

    We bought him for 35m,he’s a world cup winer and do not be blinded by hate he’s been one of the best defenders in the league of late.All I can say is football is a game of mistakes every time the opponent scores a goal someone made s mistake,so mustafi all is forgiven all he lacked is confidence.

    1. jon fox says:

      “Of late”? What use is “of late” when he has been making costly regular errors for over three seasons! YOU ARE SO WRONG AND TO SAY ALL HE LACKED IS CONFIDENCE IS BEYOND BELIEF. I have heard everything now!

      1. Godswill says:

        You have not heard everything yet. Have you heard yet that Mustafi is a WC defender?

      2. David Rusa says:

        Jon, let us not be moved by hate and emotions. The felliow has indeed improved as indicated by his recent performances. Perhaps I can agree with you on one thing, that we should give it more time to prove if the improvement is permanent or it was just a good spell which came and then disappeared again.

        1. jon fox says:

          David, Wise people judge over three years, not THREE GAMES!

  7. RSH says:

    i dont think it’s about being forgiven. its about being good enough. he’s improved from being a disaster and has gone one month without making an error. for him this is a big deal, but it’s not like he deserves a new contract and if arsenal are wise they will sell ASAP this summer. he will always be capable of mistakes and will not be surprised when everyone who is lauding him with praise suddenly turns on him when he makes yet another error.

    1. Liam says:

      Even when he made the silly mistakes he was still leading the way in tackles made, interceptions and headed clearances and he is a goal threat. I would extend his contract and partner him with Saliba/Luiz next season. All our budget must be spent on the midfield. Ideally a new defensive midfielder, box to box and creator are required and if we mange to get 3 top class players in those positions we would be an incredible force. Leno Bellerin Mustafi Saliba Tierney Ndidi Ruiz Grealish Saka Pepe Abam/Martinelli. Top 4 nailed on there.

      1. RSH says:

        this is so reactionary and not reality tho. Our defense keeps 3 clean sheets and suddenly we dont have a defense problem? I agree midfield needs work but so does our defense as well. Remember we are trying to assemble a team that can challenge for titles and silverware, not just an adequate side. And i know about mustafis stats, and they mean nothing if he makes an error every few games. That makes him a useless defender. It’s insane to say he’s turned a corner just because he hasn’t made an error in ONE MONTH.

  8. SAGooner says:

    1. Holding
    2. Chambers
    3. Saliba
    4. Mavropanos
    5. Sokratis
    6. Luiz
    7. Mustafi (in no specific order of merit or anything else)
    Any CB I missed, that will be available next season if Arsenal does not offload? Admittedly Chambers can play RB and DM as well.
    Then there are rumours of Koulibaly, Upamencano, etc, etc.
    As mentioned above, Mustafi is not a World Cup winner just for the hang of it. I was also one of his detractors, but he sure has redeemed himself under Mikel, as have several other players. A clear indication that the team was allowed to go to the dogs, starting under Wenger.
    I agree fully that all available money should FIRST be spent on a mean destroyer of a defensive midfielder, and a btob midfielder. Only then, once these positions have been filled, should others be looked at. Mustafi should stay – he has proves that he can operatein big company.

    1. Stewart Macintosh says:

      SAGooner, I agree. When I look at the list I see Holding and Chambers as risks because of injury, they can be great but we need extra cover for them.

      Saliba looks good, hopefully injuries aren’t a feature of him too, so again, cover.

      I have not been sold on Mavropanos, and I know some people are very high on him.

      Mustafi, based on recent form seems to be in form, and he is a team player – put up with all the crap, comes in when asked and he does work.

      I think the same of Sokratis, good ole grabby-hands. Not sure on Luiz – absolutely has been better but I am not sure it can be counted on.

      I really good signing would allow for more movement but we need to be careful

  9. ThirdManJW says:

    He’s still making big costly errors. Have people already forgotten his 2 blunders against Chelsea home and away?

    Sell, sell, sell!

    1. ACE says:

      Mustafi isnt a Top Class CB but honestly
      other than VVD, Toby A and maybe a
      healthy Laporte how many top draw
      central defenders are currently lighting
      up the Premier League? When in recent
      form and playing with confidence SM
      is a top 10-15 CB in this league and a
      VITAL piece of the Arteta puzzle going
      forward. He has more upside than
      Holding, Socrates, Mavro and if he
      continues to excel could form an
      exciting partnership with Saliba if the
      Frenchman hits the groud running in
      NL. A back four rotation of Luiz/Saliba/
      Mustafi and Mari wouldnt be the worst
      case senario and allow MA and Raul to
      aggresively upgrade the talent in the
      middle of the pitch. If given the choice
      I would keep Mustafi and splash the
      cash on a midfield destroyer like Partey,
      Ndidi or Sangare. There physical
      presence and situational awareness in
      the midfield would make Arsenals
      starting CB’s, whoever they may be
      even better next year.

      Now if Kola, Laca, Xhaka, Torreria and
      even Auba decide to test the free agent
      waters and the summer transfer kitty
      suddenly overflows with cheddar than
      a move for Upamecano, Kontae,
      Koulibay, Tah, etc. will definitely be on
      the cards.

      I would quite content with this squad

      Auba
      Saka…Aouar…Pepe
      Partey…Sangare
      Tierney…Saliba..Mustafi..HB
      Leno

      1. ThirdManJW says:

        You say “if he continues to excel”, but how is he “excelling” if he’s still making costly errors that lead to goals?

        Granted his overall game seems better under Arteta, but the key mistakes are still there…why? Because he’s not good enough.

  10. Grandad says:

    I agree with you RSH . I have never doubted Mustafi’s commitment to the cause,only his lack of quality.With the utmost respect, Arteta has not improved Mustafi as a player. What he has achieved during his short period in charge, is to extend defensive responsibilities to all the team ,with our wingers now tracking back to prevent easy access to our back four.In the same way our midfielders are battling harder to recover the ball.This is taking pressure off our centre backs in particular and as a consequence we are now , at last keeping clean sheets..I wish Mustafi well for the future but I suspect his future will not be with Arsenal.

  11. counsel says:

    We will finish the season within the top5 and in the Europa league Arteta is in to make history.

  12. Phenom says:

    Mustafi will always be Mustafi

    1. Tony says:

      Lols!!!😅😅
      Not a lie Bro..
      Mustafi will always be Mustafi.

      SELL!

  13. Pxn says:

    When a defender makes a mistake it leads to a goal and the defender in question gets a beating.

    What about the striker’s misses yesterday? What if the defense had conceded a goal?

    When will we also blame the strikers for not taking all their chances? For our losses?

    1. Tony says:

      You way out of the Picture Mister..

      1. GunnerJack says:

        Perhaps you could enlighten us why Pxn is ‘way out of the picture’? Thank you.

    2. GunnerJack says:

      Totally agree Pxn. I said the same thing myself a while ago.

  14. Will says:

    It’s going to take a hell of a lot more than a handful of games with no mistake for me to trust Mustafi again. In my opinion he is still a ticking time bomb and every game without a blunder is one game closer to his next – I hope he proves me wrong as I support all of our players – I just don’t see him becoming reliable.

    1. jon fox says:

      Spot on!

  15. jon fox says:

    Mustafi has been here for some years . He had a decent start alongside Kosielny for perhaps six games before beoming possibly the signle most mistake ridden CB we hadve had in my more than 60 years watching. Now having had three games without costly mistakes(though he has still made mistakes, just not costly ones this time), some arw willing to consider him ggod enough to be a long into the future regualr. WeLL i AM NOT. I look at the whoe picture and do not cherry pick games. As Grandad says in one of his regular sensible posts above , he has gained from having, AT LONG LAST, a coach who understands the need for the whole team to defend and thus our defence is now tighter. Tighter, however does NOT mean the three clowns we have as our CB’s are now good enough. ALL of Mustafi, Sokratais and Luiz should be nowhere near Arsenal Fooball Club and were I IN CHARGE, WOULD NOT BE HERE.

    1. Stewart Macintosh says:

      But isn’t that part of the issue Jon? Great defenders don’t tend to exist on crappy teams as they get the support they need – Virgil would not have stemmed the pain by himself if we were playing Emery-style football. He would have made a huge difference by himself but if the rest of the team isn’t tracking back and doing their jobs even he can’t save the world.

      “Forcing” everyone to play at least some defence has made a big difference and is perhaps allowing us to get a better sense of our limitations (I put forcing in quotes because that shouldn’t have been a radical decision 🙂 ).

      I was for getting rid of the back line lock-stock-and-barrel as job one and posted as such a lot of times. With Arteta installed I really think the issue is in the middle now. Don’t get me wrong – we should be looking for a really good central defender but I now would prioritise the midfield now. As another poster said, a really strong defensive mid would make the CBs look even better.

  16. Reggie says:

    Mustaffi is great back up and nothing more. His attitude is great and he has all the tools but he can’t be trusted or relied upon. His ability to make errors is his biggest downfall and i haven’t seen anything to change mind. I would keep him if we dont get a decent fee but just as back up.

  17. Grandad says:

    With respect Reggie , Mustafi does not have ” all the tools”.He lacks height,pace and composure, three key attributes needed for a centre back.Gomez and VVD of Liverpool have these qualities and are are very important to their success.The spine of a team must be strong to bring results, and unfortunately apart from Leno we are lacking in that vital area.

  18. Dendrite says:

    While Mustafi isn’t the most physically imposing CB, he does make up for that with his commendable aerial prowess. He is a good header of the ball and has a decent jumping jumping reach. In addition, he posses an excellent passing range and technique. He appears deceptively short but he’s actually 6’0.5” (184.5cm) which isn’t too bad for a CB given he makes up for that with his jumping power/reach and heading ability.

    Given the improvement in the team’s organization of late under Arteta, I believe Mustafi will continue to improve. The reason is because he has an excellent work rate, passion, aggression, team-work, commitment and good passing range. Besides, he’s not injury-prone. In essence, he has all the key attribute a modern CB needs to succeed. Arteta clearly knows he has all these attributes which is why he has reinstalled him into the starting 11.

    I agree he’s susceptible to making rash decision and costly errors and that is where he is needs to improve , and he would with the input of the new first-team coaches and under Arteta’s guidance. He’s 27 years now, the age that defenders generally peak and begin to play their best football. If he continues to improve, I see no reason why he wouldn’t be rewarded with a new contract soon. The fans too need to cut him some slack when he makes errors as he continues his recovery. His confidence is high right now’, let’s hope his form and confidence continues to rise!

  19. Reggie says:

    Grandad, he is good in the air and can tackle, he has the tools to be a defender, he just lacks intelligence and is prone to silly errors, usually passing. His stats for defending are actually top of the pile but its his lapses that make his defending stats look silly.

  20. David Braithwaite says:

    Mustafi has improved defensively along with the rest of the team. However, this does not immediately turn him into a world class defender.
    He has good stats but that is not enough. He is still prone to desperation when under pressure and makes bad mistakes.

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