Arsenal Tactics – Our best back four and Mustafi at right-back?

Is Mustafi a viable solution at right back? by Goonerboy

It is no secret that Arsenal has one of the worst defences in the league this season, and to be honest it has always been our Achilles heel. It got so bad under Wenger that I concluded in my mind that it is the structure rather than the personnel. Okay, to put it simply, I mean I always thought our defensive set up is so bad that only a few defenders will look good playing in it, rather than the players being bad. I said to myself “bring Matt Hummels and we will still be all over the place” because I thought the problem has to do with our structure and not necessarily the players.

But fast forward to now, under Emery, it seems to be getting worse.

We always looked like conceding every time we faced a decent opposition, and even though Emery has said he prefers to win 4-3 to winning 1-0, it makes me think he just wants to satisfy the fans because if you look at his previous teams, it is always built on defensive solidity and compactness creating a balance between attack and defence but why is our case different?

Understandably, there are many reasons for our terrible defence this season, starting with the absent Koscielny, unreliable Mustafi and new Sokratis, there was always going to be a problem. I want to believe that when all is fit, this should be our back four;

Bellerin…… Mustafi……Kos…….. Monreal…

For me, this is our best defence except you may want to replace Mustafi with Sokratis which will still be solid, but then we haven’t had the chance to play this four as much as we want to due to constant injuries plaguing that area which has really affected us. Secondly, the injury to Rob Holding has been a huge blow for us, as he was immense for us, his partnership with Mustafi was the only long pairing we have had the season which also coincided with our unbeaten run.

Having said that, I think we have both structural and personnel problems defensively at the moment, with our constant changing of CB pairing (caused by injuries of course) hindering us from having any sort of pairing at all. Structurally and tactically though, we still need to improve in our defensive set up regardless of who we have chosen to play, but that is a discussion for another day.

To go further in the Europa league and to continue to stay in touch with top 4, our defence is the only cause of worry for me, as I believe we are doing fine offensively. So how do we solve the personnel problem in our defence, what combination or pairing can we rely on to make us achieve our remaining objectives this season??

Firstly, continue to play the back four and ditch the back three system. Secondly, Emery should Identify and stick with a CB partnership for the rest of the season, to create an understanding between them. That said, here is my ideal back four for the rest of the season.

Mustafi………..Sokratis……… Koscielny…….. Monreal…

Litchsteiner for me should not even be on the bench while Jenkinson should play in the Europa. Mustafi at right back will solidify our defence more and still offer a little offensive threat with his passing, he may not be able to attack like Bellerin, but he is a better defender and will balance our right side.

My full team….


Mustafi……..Sokratis…. Koscielny…… Monreal….

……..Xhaka…. Torreira…….

……Mkhitaryan…. Ozil…… Iwobi…..


Bench: Cech, Jenkinson, Kolasinac, Mavropanos, Aubameyang, Suarez, Ramsey.

It is essential for us to be in the Champions League next season, and I personally want us to win a trophy, do you think we can achieve this with the team we have?



  1. Kedar says:

    Might be viable option… He lacked pace but his crossing is pretty good…

    1. Cliff says:

      Not bad considering the players we have at our disposal.But first replace Ramsey with Guendouzi,its time we accept that Ramsey is now a Juventus player and allow him to go in peace as I don’t think he will ever fight for our badge again..

      1. Jah son says:

        The manager seems to think he was the best option. All hail Emery the tactical genius.

        1. ozzziegunner says:

          “It is far better to stay silent and be thought a fool, than open your mouth and confirm the fact”.

      2. RSH says:

        What suggests that? He was leaving since the beginning of the season and has kept up a good attitude the entire time. Doesnt pull sick notes like other “committed” players.

    2. JimBeam says:

      Mustafi might be worth trying at RB but he definitely is not even in the top 3 of our CBs. Sokratis is much better, Koscielny is still better and Holding if he was fit would definitely keep him out of the team.
      Also we still have Ramsey for three more months and he is still playing with soul and purpose, for me he plays in our midfield anyday.
      And I am not sure if you have seen the Southampton game and how good Sead was, he is way better than Monreal at this stage.
      So although I dont know who should be our RB at the moment as no one we have fit is quality in that position but the other three are Sokratis – Koscielny – Kolasinac.
      With Xhaka and Torreira as the midfield duo and depending on the opposition Ramsey or Ozil ahead of them.

    3. Sal says:

      he actually has a pretty good acceleration, fast for a defender one of our fastest cb if we are honest, so i do belive at rb he woulb be less of a nuissance then at cb. you need to have a huge amount of concentration to play there or in goal, i think he woulb be a better option then jenk and we need to play him if we intend on selling him this summer!

  2. Ddog says:

    How you can rate Mustafi over Sokratis is just baffling…

    1. gotanidea says:

      We know that we cannot trust stats completely, but Mustafi has the highest interception and his tackle stat is just below Torreira and Xhaka

      He has almost all physical attributes to be a good CB, apart from his height

      His main weakness is his erratic decisions and Sokratis is superior in that area, probably because of Sokratis’s experience

      1. Sal says:

        gotanidea concetration is a must as a cb or else you ship in goals, it only takes one moment as we have seen so many times in the past decade. maybe if we learned from our mistakes, or just watched the other teams that have won the PL …you build your team from the back that’s a given, and in that back four only bellerin is a starter and thats prior to his ACL gutted for him!!

        holding and movra are very promising but a WC defender is needed to lift the pressure on these kids, they need to develop in their own time, take a page out of liverpools book gomez and TAA are doing very well, when you have role models like VVD and Milner the kids only need to follow their example on and off the pitch….we got sokratis which is great but we need a better player to lead from the front that’s why i urge the club to sign a world class center back this summer, sell players to get the funds if needed but drop the cash for that, we desperatly need one 🙂

  3. gotanidea says:

    Based on what I have been seeing so far, Emery’s strategies require the fullbacks or wingbacks to penetrate the opponent’s defense

    Mustafi is solid defensively, albeit he made some weird decisions when playing as a CB. But based on his performance as an RB yesterday, he is not fast and not skillful enough to be a constant threat in the right wing

    Maitland-Niles is ideal as an RB or RWB, but he must be accompanied by a better right winger. Mkhitaryan and Ozil had played on the right side, but still cannot click well with Maitland-Niles, unlike Iwobi and Kolasinac or Monreal

    1. Cliff says:

      Danny Welbeck would have been his ideal partner on that flank.How I wish he was fit,more so now that Lacz is suspended for the EL quarters.

      1. gotanidea says:

        Because Welbeck is English, he could communicate better with Maitland-Niles and he can hold the opponents with his strength/ height like Iwobi

        Welbeck could be more effective than Ozil and Mkhitaryan in 3-4-2-1 formation as well, because he has the pace and power to disturb the opponents in the wings

  4. AndersS says:

    Unlike last year at this stage, we have a realistic chance of making top 4 and CL. But I wouldn’t say our chance is more than 50/50.
    It is true, we need to defend better. But the back 4 is only part of the problem/challenge. Today, as good as all top teams around Europe defend with the whole team with quick and aggressive pressing first and secondly with organization from the halfway line and back. Wenger never required the whole team to defend, so most of our midfielders and wingers can’t do it. They don’t have the individual skills for it and they sure don’t have the collective understanding for it.

    Emery is addressing this, but it takes time. Time for those may learn it, like Iwobi, who has become much better at it, but still has a lot to learn. But also time to replace those, who can’t learn it (like Ramsey) and those who maybe won’t do it, like Özil and Mkhitaryan.

    Before we have more and better defending from the whole team, we could play with the best 4 defenders in the world whoever they might be, and still not be totally solid, because they would get too much pressure.

    1. Jah son says:

      Maybe the players aren’t coached properly.

  5. meaner says:

    If you really watched closely at our last 2 games, in europa and PL. Litchsteiner was impressive. He was my man of the match for the europa game.

    Mustafi going forward is comical.

    1. ozzziegunner says:

      meaner, I agree regarding Lichtsteiner; in the last two games against BATE and Southampton he has put in his best two performances in an Arsenal shirt.

  6. ger burke says:

    yes indeed , i would be inclined to play mustafiweewee at right back . but i would play him in the under 18 team. and even at that he is liable to mess it all up .

    1. Floyd says:

      right back… in the changing room
      had to

  7. Grandad says:

    Mustafi is one of the worst buys of the Wenger era.For £35m we expected a high class package, instead we got someone who didn’t make the grade at Everton and a player who had Valencia fans laughing all the way to the Bank.I have visited Valencia on a number of occasions and have yet to meet a fan who has sung his praises.He is one of the poorest centre backs in the Premier League and is one of the principal reasons why we are weak defensively.In the absence of Bellerin,AMN should be our right back /right wing back .With one on one coaching he can develope into a good full back although like many others, I feel he is more suited to a midfield role. Mustafi as a right back? No thank you.

  8. jamesbrowney says:

    ….Due to Emery’s demands, Mustafi as. a right back cannot work…. After Lich was substituted yesterday, our right side was completely dead, forcing our play to go through the left which isn’t good….
    …. Jenkinson is not in Emery’s plans and will likely be sold at the end of this season, so I don’t see him starting… Emery’s preference of Mustafi over him is enough proof. .
    ….. For me, it’s Lich that will hold that position until AMN returns as he has done really well lately….. Emery said that he had his best game on Sunday…..our centre back pairings picks itself and there will be rotation for the position….. Kolasinac is good going forward but he cannot defend, although he is getting better at that…..

    …..I think the young Greek might just be overhyped and people saying he is a better defender than Mustafi aren’t saying the truth….all of the other centre backs are more experienced than he is ……he is young though and I pray he performs well when he gets his chance.

  9. Jah son says:

    Sooner this Spanish contingency is nullified the better it will be for the Arsenal.

    1. Sergio says:

      Yeh, because Fabregas, Cazorla, Monreal, Bellerin and Arteta were all terrible for us.

      Are you serious?

  10. Jah son says:

    Suarez signed in the middle of the winter for what collecting taxes for the Spanish government. Kmt . Fans say he’s to make the bench stronger while we are dying for first team players. Guess because he wasn’t signed by you know who.

  11. Jah son says:

    Maybe Suarez is Iwobi’s understudy

  12. RSH says:

    dont see why Ozil should be introduced into the XI when we’ve gotten to 4th place almost entirely without him. Hate Emery all you want and disagree with me, but his lineups have put us in an advantageous position.

    1. arsenal314 says:

      We actually need him now for the top four challenge.

  13. jon fox says:

    I don’t buy this structural argument, as it is clear that our defence overall is simply way below the quality of players we need and deserve. I hope to see , when all are fit, a back four, never a five, with Holding amd Mavropanos as first choice CB . Though both and especially Mavrop have yet to prove themselves fully capable. I feel that Holding already has done, to a large degree, though not yet 100%, and we still need to see him over a longer spell before being finally convinced. Theirr obvious advantage is both youth and height compared to all the other CB’s we have. But ultimately what matters most is simple talent level allied to great desire. I do not believe we have ANY current full backs at the club who can properly defend. As wing backs , both Bellerin , when fit, and Kolas are doing fine. BUT I prefer defenders to defend firstly and for real attackers to be at the other end getting us goals. This means specialist wide players/ wingers and busy, hard working, talented, central midfield creative players as our assist makers. Trying to fit any system around sub par players is a hopeless cause. We badly need two fullbacks of top defensive quality. A minimum of two actually.

    1. Achala says:

      Fully agree with Jon.

      – Mavro and Holding to be given a chance to prove themselves
      – Holding will have to play 20 games consistently well before we can be sure his atrocious decision making and passing from last year have really permanently improved
      – Mavro will have to prove his equally bad (or worse) decision making has improved as well

      Might I add 2 things:
      1. Mavro is the only defender we’ve had in the last 10 years that has realistic chances to be top top class due to his superior physical attributes – faster, stronger, better jumper than Holding who has similar height…
      2. While Chambers has proven that he’s not good enough CB for even bottom table Fulham, he could be a decent option to be the back-up to Torreira as DM since he’s a homegrown player unlike the likeable Elneny (who is nevertheless the epitome of mediocrity).

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