My Top Ten Arsenal defenders that were worse than Mustafi

Have Arsenal Had Worse Defenders Than Mustafi? Dan Smith

The fact that Mustafi has yet to be included in our match day squad this season shows that Emery is happy for him to be sold. Arsenal are showing their hands by not playing him. In fact it’s telling the world that we don’t rate him, so therefore don’t be surprised if our bluff is called at the 11th hour of the rest of Europe’s transfer windows closing, with an offer nowhere near our valuation. I think any bid would be accepted as the priority is getting his salary off the wage bill.

The irony of some of our fan base isn’t lost on me. We demand loyalty from players when it suits our agenda yet when someone insists he wants to stay he’s booed throughout pre-season? It’s why it’s best for all parties for a fresh start. The German would only carry on being a scapegoat which would undermine his confidence leading to poor performances, a vicious circle.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying he’s good enough for this level. I think mentally the pressure of playing in an environment where you have to win each week is too much, yet I don’t think he’s as bad as people make out either. There are worse defenders that have come to represent us in the Premiership, who never got the abuse the German did, which again shows a change in our fan base.

Don’t get me wrong, a great defender, but based on what he was brought to the Emirates to do, failed. He struggled to lead a young dressing room having got used to certain standards at Chelsea. When Clichy conceded a last-minute penalty at Birmingham, instead of putting his arm round the full back and pointing out we were still top of the Prem, he had a one-man sit-down protest. Fabregas was the more natural choice to captain a youthful squad and stories have emerged of him not being the most popular.

Don’t get me wrong, he was a very good defender but given how he would play at Birmingham and West Ham got to be a case of what could have been? He was brought in as a long-term replacement for our famous back 4 but serious injuries made him impatient for first team action. Perhaps an oversight by both player and manager as he would have been good enough to partner Campbell.

Ironically he played well in big games such as an FA Cup Final, as well as part of a back 4 which set a record for how many minutes with a clean sheet in Champions League. He was then bullied by Drogba and didn’t have the personality to respond. It became a yearly joke of Drogba targeting Senderos to such a point there have been rumours of the defender having panic attacks beforehand each time the fixture came about.

Some felt the Brazilian was sold too soon, just as he was getting used to the physical nature of the League. Ironically compared to Mustafi in terms of lacking concentration skills, easy to be bullied and a tendency to dive in too much. Having watched him against Barcelona in the Copa del Rey though, could he still offer something?

Sol Campbell
Obviously, I meant the second time round. It says a lot about our willingness to save money, when we really needed a defender, we offered a short-term deal to a legend we initially would not offer an extension years earlier due to his age. Having not played for months and put on a serious amount of weight he was only meant to cover up a hole in the squad. Injuries meant he played more than anticipated and while never disgracing himself, seeing him start at the Nou Camp was asking too much.

What he lacked for in skill, he won our hearts over with his efforts. Replacing an injured Adams, he lacked the temperament to keep the position full time. Was better suited as a DM. Maximised his career despite his limitations. Every title squad needs a Grimandi.

Was our only signing after winning the title in 2002. It quickly became obvious didn’t have the mentality to be a starter every week, panicking under pressure and often out of position. His song says it all (look it up) yet history books will say he was an Invincible and two-time FA Cup winner.

Was brought in to add experience to a young dressing room but quickly became another headache. It quickly became clear he was struggling with the physical nature of the English League, and needed a leader to guide him, something he was meant to be doing for us. It takes a lot for Arsene Wenger to give up on someone so quickly but the Frenchmen was out in the cold fairly soon.

Mikael Silvestre
Silvestre was clearly past his best by the time we brought him from Man United. The idea was to have an extra body who could offer a young dressing room some experience. Injuries though meant the Frenchmen had to play a lot more than intended, when it was clear he had lost his pace.

The story goes that Parlour and Bergkamp were winding up Keown based on the latest trialist being so good, his place was under threat. Arsenal Wenger, hearing this feedback, thought if the likes of Bergkamp were impressed he must be worth buying for a million. The joke backfired when injuries meant the Latvian had to start at Old Trafford leading to a 6-1 humiliation. In my first ever game at Highbury a year later I vividly remember everyone holding their breath every time he took a first touch. Was he the worst Gunner to win the Premier League?

Whether you agree with this list or not how many did we ever truly turn on like we have with the German? If Mustafi ends up staying my hope is supporters do their job and …… support!



  1. The biggest change in the fanbase is the rise of social media, with fans hiding behind their keyboards and spouting vitriol at the slightest mistake a player makes. Just look at some of the disgusting stuff tweeted to Pogba after his penalty was saved.

  2. personally i dont see mustafi as a bad defender….. His stats will butress my point. Its just that when he makes an error its usually very costly. Against norwich van dyk made 3 notable errors but it never amounted to a goal. But if that was mustafi arsenal would be 3 goals down…. No one is perfect even the great van dyk.

    1. You have made the point very easy for those panicking to know how to judge.And worst enough is he even make mistakes in crucial matches which are not supposed to be lost, Leading to our failure to qualify in UEFA CL.

  3. Booing our own lads is a strict no-no. Mustafi could have been counselled and moulded, but I guess it’s a bit too late now, as the bloke seems to have lost his confidence. Like Xhaka, he can find his feet in other leagues where the pace is slower.
    We gooners too must mould ourselves the Arsenal way and get behind the team.

  4. Mustafi isn’t right for us.
    I prefer Luiz, Holding, Sokratis and Chambers over him.

    He may not be as bad as some people say but still not good enough

  5. Gallas….better than Mustafi
    Gabriel…better than Mustafi
    Mikael Silvestre old and useless when he came
    Stepanovs…..worst ever
    Cygan…..better than Mustafi
    Squillaci..Mustafi’s equal.
    Grimandi…better than Mustafi
    Senderos..equal of Mustafi
    Upson…..better than Mustafi

    Mustafi…one of the poorest.

    1. Sean I agree with virtually EVERY WORD of your post. The only SLIGHT difference I have is that I make Squillaci the very worst of all Wengers long line of dud CB’s, and even worse than Mustafi. Stepanovs I do not count, as he was not a regular really, apart from a very brief spell . He was, as you say, useless but was basically a reserve only. Surprised that Djourou did not appear in the worst ten list, in place of GALLAS, who I made the least awful of all in the list. I made Upson next least awful but not one was remotely good enough, -maybe Gallas apart- to have been at Arsenal and but for Wengers legendary incompetence in defending judgement and lack of defending coaching, NONE would have been here.
      GEORGE GRAHAM WOULD NOT HAVE REMOTELY CONSIDERED BUYING MOST ON THE LIST. That is why he had a legendary defence that Wenger was fortunate to inherit, even though he DID have the sense to leave them alone to do the job they ALL did so brilliantly.

      1. Agreed with everything Jon said.

        How anyone can rate Gallas worse than Mustafi is beyond me. Gallas was a good defender. Not only better than Mustafi and everyone else on this list, but better than at least half defenders we’ve had in the last 15 years.

        1. And just like Sol Campbell he made Kolo Toure look far better than he actually was.Galls is wrongly sited and blamed for his sit down protest in Birmingham when we threw away a leaf that potentially cost us the Premiership Title.Did That not actually show that he cared?

          1. Very true about Kolo being generally overhyped as a top player when he was just a fairly decent CB. Not tall enough and when without Campbell he was not the same player. Not among our top level CB’s for sure and I was never of the opinion that CB was his correct position anyway.

  6. Mustafi seems like a likable guy, but he does not suit our club or this league for that matter. There Championship teams with better CB’s on there bench than him and that says alot.

    Valencia pulled a fast one on us. The sooner we ship him off, the better. We have enough at CB now with Luiz / Socratis / Chambers / Holding / Mavro / plus Monreal can also cover if the academy boys cant step up.

  7. i have a feeling we will beat liverpool 1-2 and then need a late equalizer to draw spurs nextweek… Hmmmmmm

  8. I remember Koscielny’s early days/years as an Arsenal defender. He was error prone, cost us the Carling cup against Birmingham, scored a couple of own goals too, but was never booed by the fans.
    Wenger believed in him, and gradually he adjusted to the Epl, regained his confidence and became a better player.
    The way the fans have turned on Mustafi, makes it difficult for him to get any better. Is he really the worst defender we’ve had, I don’t think so.

    @Bajaja, I’d rather have us draw Liverpool and beat Spuds. I know it’s same 4pts but on the table it gives us a slight advantage over the Spuds.

  9. Mustafi is not good enough and I think he should have been sold last year. I like how Emery is in some way telling him to find a new club, I think he will be good in a much slower pace league like the Serie A or the French league

  10. Best CB’s that manned d defence in Arsene’s era:

    1. Mertesacker? Hilarious! What use is a statue? He went for a walk in Trafalgar Square and was overtaken by Nelsons Column! Slowest footballer in history! A car that cannot move may have great positional sense,by the way and before anyone tells me he had great positional sense. But unless it can move, it is useless. Defence was constantly on edge with him defending. Or should that read “lumbering”!

      1. The German national team obviously thought he was quite decent, as did I.

        I agree with you though in saying that Squillaci was our worst centre back by quite a way.

  11. My only disagreement with the analysis is about Sol Camper. I think by all ramifications Sol is better than Mustafi and that was why he was selected by Wenger for our only Champions league final till date. I can’t see any comparison with the regular error prone Mustafi.

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