I am very aware on Just Arsenal that our readers can sometimes be very fickle, as in when we win we praise the every player for their great performances (except Ozil and Iwobi!), but when we lose we can rip into the defenders and anyone else who could in any way be responsible for our defeat.
This week it was Mustafi, who made a terrible error to gift Palace their second decisive goal, and he has been lambasted from pillar to post in every single Arsenal website and many more besides. Is this productive?
Unai Emery thinks not. It is probably true that poor Mustafi must be scared to turn on his phone as he is getting insulted everywhere. Twitter, FaceBook, blogs and big news outlets are all saying the same thing. Won’t this make the German even more unconfident? Anyway this is Emery’s plea to the fans to be a little more understanding. “I want to protect the players,” the Boss said on Arsenal.com, “and I protect Mustafi because I believe in him.
“He is a very good centre back, he has the habit of doing the sliding tackle and using anticipation against the opposition. He can win one, win two, win three, win four – but if he loses one he is in the picture and if he concedes a goal he is the big picture. Sunday was like that.
“I have spoken to him. I told him ‘You are young, you can improve and you need to work hard because you have a big quality for a centre back.’
“For example, at Watford, he was the best of the 28 players, the best, and he won all of the balls in the air with his head, that is a very good statistic for him. On Sunday against Benteke it’s more difficult to win every ball in the air but it was 50:50.
“He needs to improve things tactically, his decision-making, but he has good quality and my work is to help him.”
“I say to our supporters, ‘Help our players.’ Because I want every player to have big confidence,”
“I know there are reactions, and the first reaction is strong. First, when we win they are telling us we are the best, we have a record, we have a possibility to be third in the table – that is good.
“But we should take the balance in the middle, because when we aren’t in this position in the table or aren’t individually also putting in good performances and the criticism is coming at us, it is time to find the balance.
“I am going to protect the players and help the players. And all the supporters who love Arsenal, I prefer them to do that.
“I know it is not easy and they are going to criticise when they are in the stadium and also when they are watching on TV. But personal insults I don’t agree with. Insults I don’t want. I think it is not necessary to be insulting.
“If I protect the players, first it is for the confidence. I do criticise them – but only inside when I am working and we are speaking. I use my conversations with them individually and collectively and sometimes I criticise them. But outside I want to protect them. I prefer that as I think we need to be together.”
So how about it? We only have a few games remaining and we need all our players to be feeling good and confident, and ready to bounce back from our defeat. What are the chances of the readers on Just Arsenal holding back on the insults for a while?