Mustafi can’t be blamed for Leicester defeat, but we always need a scapegoat

Picking On Mustafi Won’t Work This Time! By Dan

It’s ironic, as even before our game against Leicester I was planning an article about something I have noticed within our fan base. How there are some players that gooners simply don’t like their peers criticising, while there are a group of the same old names who get questioned all the time.

Almost to prove the point, Mustafi has played less than 45 minutes this season yet in the last 24 hours he’s been highlighted as a reason behind all our problems. This is a defender who since Arteta arrived was easily our best central defender out of a bad bunch.

Sunday was his first game since July. That was when he was outstanding in the FA Cup Semi Final. You remember that defensive tactical masterclass against Man City, which led some to arrogantly predict a title challenge and still my favourite, ‘we are lifting the Champions League inside three years’.

Instead of some admitting that you got carried away in the summer, you needed a scapegoat, making Mustafi’s return timely.

He gets zero support or understanding he’s been injured for 4 months; he is just an easy target.
Don’t get me wrong, he was out of position for Vardy’s winner, as was Leno, as was our midfield. If you want to blame Mustafi for the goal, then fine, but he wasn’t the only reason we lost that game.

I personally feel it should be taken into account how long he’s been on the side-lines. It’s funny though that the same people who won’t show empathy for the German will make a hundred excuses for Aubameyang, easily one of our worst players in this campaign.

He was yet again invisible in defeat. Theories range from all our attack goes down the other side, or he should be in the middle. It’s funny how though he was scoring goals last season from the left? Isn’t that the position he won us the Cup from?

It’s easier to blame Laca, despite working harder.

Bellerin gets a hard time for not being confident in the final third, and now we are starting to pick on Willian. Yet Pepe seems immune from any backlash.

Apart from Saka, we have convinced ourselves we have youngsters that are better than they actually are. Willock, Reiss Nelson and Maitland Niles have been around the first team for a few years now and do very little (but let’s target Xhaka).

Eddie comes off the bench and apart from diving doesn’t look like he believes he can make any difference (but let’s blame Laca).

My moral compass is simple. You can’t have one rule for one player and a different one for someone else. That’s called an agenda.

An example would be why when we point out the regular Leno mistakes that’s not okay, but let’s pounce on Mustafi’s error when he was one of our most improved players post Emery.

Our keeper should have stayed in his goal so is partially responsible for that goal for Vardy. His kicking was poor, as it was three times in Austria.

Goalies are taught to palm balls to the side. Pushing it into the middle is a sin. He did that at Anfield and the Etihad. He’s done the same in the North London Derby.

In fact during the last campaign he was near top of the list for errors leading to goals (think Chelsea, Everton, Olympiakos). So why if I mention that will some readers call me a Martinez fan boy, but Mustafi is fair game? It’s because as a fan base we are fickle and probably get laughed at more than anyone else.

Not just for statements like a team who finished 8th can close a 45-point gap on Liverpool.
Or Niles is better than Kante.

Arteta is better than Pep!

Better then Wenger!

Auba better then Henry!

We simply think we have better players than we do.

How quick were certain YouTube channels to call Leno one of the best keepers in the League? What had he done to earn that accolade? Instead of admitting that, peeps are scared it will hurt their views or subscribers.

I was asked in the summer why do I emphasise on last year being our worst position in 25 years? It’s because I want some fans to see how far we have fallen.

Finishing 8th means you’re an inconsistent team, so why would you expect consistency six weeks later? Because we are called Arsenal?

We have no divine right for anything.

If you want to say, ‘Mustafi’s not good enough for a side who wants to compete’, then I agree, but we don’t have an owner who cares about competing.

In terms of challenging, I agree Mustafi’s not good enough. Neither is David Luiz or Cedric, but we gave them new contracts. How many errors did Luiz make?

Apart from a few games towards the end, what did Ceballos do to grant another loan?

We replaced Martinez who was competition for Leno, which would have brought out the best of both, and swapped him for Runarsson who our manager clearly doesn’t trust.

We sack 55 staff, yet turn down 20 million for Maitland-Niles who remains a makeshift fullback. Name me 10 great games he’s had in three years?

Saliba was good enough to play every week in France, but suddenly can’t be trusted to play in the Europa League?

I like our manager but when was it okay to look at an asset we paid over 20 million for and say, ‘nah’? It’s your job to teach him and make him better!

I don’t like singling anyone out.

In my opinion a supporters job is to support.

I watched the likes of Stepanovs and while there was banter, I never remember Highbury turning on anyone or getting angry. I blame social media for that.

Everyone now has an opinion which they can share with the world in seconds. They go over the top when things are going well, and ultra-negative when things go wrong. The truth is in the middle. Yet we live in a world where people don’t know how to wait.

If something goes wrong, they demand an explanation. There has to be a reason, someone to blame.

We have a generation of supporters who haven’t got the life skills to let Arteta make baby steps.

We didn’t lose on Sunday because of Mustafi. We lost because we are not as good as some of our fans think we are…

Dan Smith

Tags Arsenal v Leicester Mustafi


  1. Very good article Dan but my opinion is still we are challenging for the title (and I haven’t changed my prediction we are the winners this season) hence top 4 is a given.

      In fact , though some would argue that there is a thin line bewteen optimism and absurdity, I do NOT subscribe to that thin line at all. I think there is a massive gulf in intelligent thought between properly analysed and sensible optimism and absurd and unrealistic expectations based on nothing but personal bias.

      1. It is just my opinion Jon. Am I not allowed to dream? There is room for both realistic and unrealistic expectations.

        I will stop believing we are challenging for the title only when it’s not possible to close the point gap with the league leader.

        1. HH yes of course you and all of us ARE l allowed to dream. But JA is a fan site with hopefully fans who have really thought through their comments being to the fore. Dream away then if it floats your boat but can I suggest you preface your fantasy dreams with a comment telling the thinkers on here that is is JUST your dream. We are not mind readers and have assumed that you meant what you wrote.

          Most folk do that, as it is normal, in debate sites, to write what you think, not what you fantasise about.

          1. @jon fox,how ironic and hypocritical that you are accusing other fans,writers.. of personal bias!coming from the man who only praises articles/comments he agrees with,also you need to get off your horse and stop putting people down,trust me you don’t impress me or many people for that matter with your English quite the opposite actually I find ridiculously funny,calling yourself “homme de lettres”which means a man of letters,a literary man… unlike you I don’t like to boast but if I did I would tell you actually I am telling the reasons you don’t impress me,come back to me when you’re able to speak and write 5 languages at least fluently and I don’t include Latin which I only studied for 2 years , that’s right I studied languages,french literature, philosophy…I had to do it because I am tired of your constant condescending, patronising comments and the digs directed at anyone who dares disagreeing with you

            1. Siamos and Sid I think Jon likes and is always seeking to be disliked. I think that’s what float his boat.

          2. I meant what I wrote but I guess you missed the part where I said it is my opinion? It is the seventh word of the first sentence.

      2. Forever sh*tting on everyone’s articles that he disagrees with.. I hope you are the most intelligent, well read, well spoken, well written…articulate person out there as you always insinuate. A ridiculous article you wrote a few weeks back seem to indicate the direct opposite though..

        1. That’s Jon fox for you!how dare you disagreeing with him?😁the guy knows it all and is never wrong or thinks so!

  2. Hi Dan

    Great article. I agree with many points but also disagree with many.

    Mustafi – I agree that he is not good enough and unfortunately on this occasion I beleive he is very much at fault again. I have seen videos of what appears to be Gabrielle yelling at mustafi ti track back and cover him as he saw the danger. Unfortunately, mustafi walks back and vary finds space just as Gabrielle predicted. For me this is the no.1 reason why he gets the most blame. The 2nd reason is that like luiz mustafi can have 5 brilliant games and on the 6th game make an absolute howler that leads to goals. Luiz being worse with red cards in the mix. As far as I am concerned they deserve alot of the blame.

    I do agree with you that our players are no where near the quality they have been each time u go back 3 years the players get alot better. I also feel the manager was alot better

    Arteta – I am reserving judgement on him until january/end of season. He has pulled off 1 or 2 masterclasses in the cups but also made some ridiculous choices IMO in league games etc. So far it has been bang average if you balance out the brilliance with the poorness. In all fairness arteta has a decent squad. Auba, partey,Gabrielle. I remember Leicester City winning the league with only 3 players who would get into any other squad vardy, Kante and Mahrez. The rest of the team were arguably not much better than the current arsenal squad so its up to the manager to make the best of the hand you have. I do think some ruthlessness needs to come into play and certain players axed like ozil was (had to mention him). But I also question if it is a tactic to get certain players like mustafi and elnenay in the shop window. Only reason I can imagine them playing tbh ?

    In conclusion. The moans and groans about certain players and the managers decisions are justified I beleive. We have pundits and fans alike questioning decisions and seeing certain outcomes before they happen so we can’t all be wrong can we ?

  3. Completely agree Dan! Well said.

    We gooners are a bunch of passionate people – but venting towards specific players and undermining their confidence at a time when they need our support most, doesn’t make sense.

    It’s like I flopped on my college test and my parents, teachers and everyone instead of supporting me are spewing vitriol, making me feel like a dumb****. So stop demeaning our players. By venting, you’re doing more harm than good.

    That doesn’t mean that you provide critique – but do so in a mature way.

    And Leicester? Hey, that one’s on Arteta too! Auba on RW? Ridiculous.

  4. Mustafi is to blame, he is too slow. He lost Vardy. And Arsenal lost the game. Though, no need for scapegoating him, but he is to be blame for the loss (50%). The referee takes the other (50%)

  5. No, he is not to blame.

    We are not creating, shooting and scoring enough. Those missed first half chances cost us the game.

    1. I couldn’t agree more. I kept screaming my head off at the insipid football we kept playing throughout, right until they scored.
      Too few runs behind the lines. Too few attempts to break up their defensive structure. Bar Luiz (and to some extent Partey), no real attempt at direct play.
      We were static, bland, and extremely short on ideas.
      “They set up defensively.”
      Duh?? They’re not supposed to play how WE want them to play!

      We’re supposed to figure a way around their low block – not spend 90 minutes whining about how they chose to set up.

      Another day, another dull performance.

  6. I hope we won’t be having this same discussion on Monday morning!!
    All joking aside, nice article, Dan! You always come up with a belter!

    I agree with McLovin about not creating, shooting, scoring enough. It’s so easy to blame a defender who makes one mistake.. yet fail to blame up the other end who make 3 mistakes… yes our defence is looking more solid, not there just yet, still won’t win games -0… but bloody hell, up the other end we have more than enough firepower to surely have scored more than 8 goals in the league!! 6 games in and I’m already frustrated…. come on fellas, sort it out!
    Luckily, it’s nearly November 5 – plenty of rockets for backsides!!

  7. Nice post – I can’t believe we sold the better keeper to retain Leno who can’t catch a cold, own his box or inspire confidence. He’s a great shot stopper but we need a good keeper who helps a vulnerable defence. If he could organise defence at corners, catch the ball, shout at Mustafi for being out of position etc – how much better would we be…..
    bog issue is Arteta doesn’t know his best 11 & formation, can’t adjust during a game & plays with too much structure yet still get exposed with a simple ball over the top.

  8. In my opinion, the article was utter rubbish from start to finish (apologies to any person offended)
    With players like Mustafi, Kolasinac, Socrates, Xhaka, Ozil (as he is still on the rolls), Laca only deluded people think we will be crowned EPL champs. We are a cup team and enjoy the cup success till we have Arteta. Next summer once Wenger’s dross leaves for good, then only judge and complain about the gaffer and tactics. He just does not have the players to play an entertaining game. Rodgers complimented him for omitting Ozil. I do not fault Arteta for Emi’s departure as we needed funds for Partey. If Ozil was gone, we would have saved 18 million in wages and maybe saved Emi from departing. Without understanding economics, arm chair pundits slate the manager. I wrote off this season much before the first game because of the squad we have. Adding Partey and Gabriel is good, but with the core still of Wenger, expect more blunders as the season progresses.

    1. No excuse for Arteta. He has a squad better than what Wenger used in his latter years, having only Coqueline as his dmf. Arteta should get the best out of his squad. I agree he needs time but that is just it. He has a player that slips into Atletico’s line up but he was not good enough for him. Arteta needs time, but no excuse on the quality of players he has.

  9. This is a good piece Dan and I can say all of us in this guilty of what you talk about in the article. I know I have never singled out any player for the failure of our team as I can see this is a dysfunctional team. To me it is always the system. There is not wrong in conceding a goal but what we do to prevent it or equalize when we did has be the objective of my concern. We did that against Rapid but not against Leicester. I don’t and won’t ever blame any players for any result. Arteta has shown he is capable of dropping under performing players and even took them out the team as he did with Sokratis and you know who. So expect him to continue doing the same. To me very thing this team does wrong is his call

  10. Firstly, nice Article Dan

    imo you cant put all the blame on Mustafi, yes he didn’t cover Gabriel but this could have all been avoided if we played him on Thursday and rested Luiz.
    We could have given him an hour and see how he was holding up, it would also have given him some sharpness as he basically came in on Sunday cold.

    Some of those comparisons like the Arteta better than pep, Auba better than Henry are just laughable. I know its not you Dan who thinks this but there are people who do.

    There is no way in a million years Auba will ever be anywhere near Henry imo, Auba scores goals and thats where it stops for him. Henry on the other hand had grace, power, speed, technical ability to be able to pick the ball up on the outside of this own box, run through the whole opposition and score, you will never see auba do that because he is not capable of it.

    MA is nowhere near, Pep or Wenger ( not yet ) he could be in the future.

    So many fans are so deluded and think what we have and how we play will win us titles this season.
    We will be lucky if we win 1 cup this season.

    Imo we’re about 4-5 transfer windows away from making a genuine challenge and its pretty simple the reason why, we have too many players who are average and no amount of coaching is going to improve them the way MA wants as the style between Wenger, UE and MA are very different and the players are not able to 100% commit to this different style.

    As for all those moaning about Martinez going, your all deaf, dumb and blind.

    We sold a player who had no value for 20m, we tried to sell him last season for 2m no one wanted him, he came in and done very well which was great for him and us as we won 2 trophies but when youre struggling in life with money, we all have to make sacrifices to do what we want in life it is no different to football clubs right now in this climate

  11. A fascinating and well argued piece DAN, I agree with a lot but differ on quite a bit too. But what I most take as true is your very final sentence, where you rightly argue that we lost because we are not as good as some fans think we are.

    Sadly some fans will never adopt realism and prefer their own fantasies. They frustrate me, as a deep thinker, so very much with their hasty and reactionary posts.

    I do not, contrary to some opinions on here, claim to be more intelligent than others. But I DO claim to be among those who always think properly before writing. If only ALLOF US could and would do likewise Sigh!

  12. Fafana 19 years was able to keep Auba quiet where in the world is Mari? The assumption that he isn’t ready for Premiere league is a lame one.
    If Mustafi is the CB in our defense system playing in or coming from the bench I’m afraid we are doomed. Fernandinho of City, Xabi Alanso where all DM before playing emergency CB and eventually being converted to CB.
    I wish I can say this any louder. The pairing of Elneny and Partey is our best depending on the opposition. Why Elneny?
    Because of his work rate, keeping pressure on the opposition when we loose possession his mobility interceptions and braking down play will be easier for good 90 minutes of play the midfield will have better control with or without possession. Ceballos is good technically and good with passes but not for entire 90minutes. Xhaka can be drafted as a CB he has played in that position before.
    If Mustafi is your insurance cover I’m sorry Boss but your time will be over sooner that Ozil’s contract.

  13. These were the words I came to read:

    “We didn’t lose on Sunday because of Mustafi. We lost because we are not as good as some of our fans think we are…”

    Well-rounded article.

  14. Dan…

    I join the growing number of persons who have rightly and correctly praised your well scripted article! While you may have crossed many topics of interest and contrary opinions along the body of your message, nevertheless, indeed, your closing sentence emphasises most importantly why your article is and should be commended!

    Recently, I have mentioned that the only reason why many supposed “Arsenal fans” are living in fantasy world, with their expectations differing widely from reality, is simply because of the prowess of Arteta’s managerial abilities. Perhaps, if not, we may have been having our present discussion meandering in some relegation battle (IMHO).

    Many never realized that Unai’s foremost problem was his inability to engrain a philosophy into the minds of his weak-minded players at the time. He immediately sought to pursue glory without first striving to solve a fundamental issue with the team, namely, the lack of a solid defensive background, structure, and understanding of the game.

    Now, I wouldn’t say Arteta has gotten all problems solved completely, but it is clearly obvious to all that he has made great strides in drilling a dependable philosophy, which marks the start of a potential rejuvenation going forward. Yes, he should be supported despite his sparing errors, even at the expense of any player who may see himself as untouchable or bigger than the ideals of the club.

    Finally, I must commend you for the timing of your article, particularly noting that you were savvy enough to allow many inflamed minds to settle a bit before launching such a strong article with a bold voice!

    Your message is clear and should be supported going forward! Kudos!


  15. I am a lifelong Leicester City fan but before you all jump up and down and ask what I am doing on here I am not here to gloat. I am going on a limb here by writing anything on here but am not emotionally attached to Arsenal like all of you so can hopefully give an outsiders opinion from someone who loves their own club and hates losing in the same way you all do. Your website popped up on one of my feeds so after reading the comments thought I would add my thoughts.

    I also lived in North London for 5 years when Wenger first arrived and was surrounded by Gooners so have a soft spot for Arsenal if I am honest.

    All I would say is it very easy to jump on players, managers and owners backs all the time when things go wrong and all clubs have players which seem constantly in favour and some which are never in favour despite their performances. Amartey and Justin for me, I panic every time they get the ball.

    All sport is often defined by fine margins, for me the disallowed goal at the start was a goal, if that goes in, we probably go on to lose the game and Arsenal are Top 4 and everyone is happy.

    Leicester’s ploy was very obvious as we have some key players missing. To play Harvey Barnes as a lone striker says it all, he’s a great winger but his finishing at times is woeful so it was simply a case of frustrate Arsenal for an hour, stay in the game and then start to open it up when our main man comes on. We were also very lucky David Luiz when off injured, don’t get me wrong I don’t think he is a great defender, he’s too rash, but he s a good footballer and was hurting Leicester with some lovely long passes, Mustaphi can’t do that so it played into our hands.

    In these 2 instances we got lucky and went onto win the game, Rodgers strategy worked, but luck as in fine margins and decisions all went our way.

    I have seen plenty of games when that has not been the case for us but over the course of a season I still think things balance themselves out, it is just very easy to only remember the things which go against you.

    For what it is worth I think Arteta is doing a really good job, I was a little surprised by his appointment simply due to his lack of experience as a number 1, but have been impressed with what he is doing, but he is also learning on the job in a hugely pressurised and scrutined environment. You can get away with mistakes a lot more at clubs like Leicester as both players and managers than you can at bigger clubs, the pressure, scrutiny and worst of all expectation is a lot more intense.

    He won the FA cup in his first season, trophies are not to be sniffed at, just ask your nearest rivals.

    Yes you can question some of his decisions, not playing Saliba for example, and at times in games, but you can do that with every manager every week, so for what its worth, I now think he is a very good fit and given time could bring some real success back to Arsenal, but don’t jump on his back every time something goes wrong, its inevitable, it will happen. Judge him season by season and see if he is improving the club. We all know you have good periods and bad periods and make mistakes in a season but if the overall picture is improving and you are still picking up silverware then things are on the right trajectory, then for sure you should stick with him and enjoy the ride, because when you do reach the top again and win the title, the taste of success this time will be that much sweeter.

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