Shkodran Mustafi showed both his flaws and talent in one game

Shkodran Mustafi is an enigma, he is both a liability and an asset.

Last night we saw both sides of Shkodran Mustafi, we saw the frustrating error part of his game but we also saw that he has that potential to be a top defender.

If you take out his glaring mistake and just look at his performance after that you cannot hand on heart say he had a bad game, in fact, you cannot call it an average game, he was very good.

The thing is this, by including the error it freakishly makes his display thereafter all the better.

We are talking about a player who has zero confidence, it is shot to pieces and that was before the match even kicked off.

He is criticised left right and centre and is subjected to some terrible abuse, we banned a site user last night for a vile comment about him and his children. He gets booed, laughed at and even some have called him the second-worst defender in the world.

So, think about how he feels mentally and emotionally when he takes to the field of play, think how he must have felt after his mistake leads to a penalty and red card, he must have been devastated beyond belief. One could be forgiven for worrying about his actual well being and I do not say that lightly.

But he lifted his head, puffed his chest out and got on with it and what a performance he put in. He made some crucial tackles, cleared the ball time and again and was a rock.

In the cold light of day reading and listening to Arsenal fans almost everyone has commended him, in fact, some are saying he may have a future at Arsenal after all.

Mustafi is error-prone, let’s not make any bones about that but when he is not he is actually a very good defender, he made the assist for Gabriel Martinelli last night, he has a wicked header, his passing is decent for a defender, it is just those annoying mistakes he keeps on making.

If Mikel Arteta can get him to eradicate those silly little mistakes then he would be like a new signing for the club.

He has a chance now to kick on, the fans will back him, that is evident from last night, but it is down to him now.

I love nothing more than seeing someone rise like a phoenix from the ashes and I really do hope that Mustafi can do that.


  1. Arsenal should have known that Mustafi is an erratic CB, after seeing his performances at the relegation-zone Valencia. I believe Arsenal scouts and decision makers were fooled by Mustafi’s impressive defending stats at that time

    I think the error happened because Mustafi rarely played with Leno and Luiz. He has to play at the FA Cup match to regain his confidence, because we will need him again in Burnley

    He blew his last chance, but he has been thrown into the savage Stamford Bridge when he had very low confidence and when the team was sick. We don’t have better option currently, so we had better support him for now

  2. I know, because I thought he played really well after the mistake – he was the guy heading most of the balls out of the box, and irony-of-ironies, the other one was Xhaka (go figure).

    The thing is, can we afford to risk the giant mistakes? Right now probably until people are healthy and prove they can play again – everyone is calling for Holding (me too) but he was really poor against Leeds. Hopefully that is rust and recovery and he will revert to form.

    To be honest it has been awhile since we have had a rock solid defender, let alone two. And I am not even thinking world class, just steady players who almost never make big errors. Maybe younger BFG and Laurent was the last time?

    And regardless, the level of abuse is awful. But in today’s age, it is really easy to be a complete ass while being anonymous – social media’s great “strength”

      1. And they were still the CB pairing when it was City’s turn to destroy us, 6-3. In fact, never have I seen a more overrated CB pairing in the history of football. Koscielny for me was garbage from day one and same goes for BFG..Whatever his name “BFG” even means!

  3. I understand modern football requires defenders to be ball playing but that should be a nice to have. The fundamental quality of a defender is reliability and defending. BTW, he also lost his man on the second goal.

  4. To get back after falling so deep is incredible.The moment he put arsenal into that mess,he was devastated but the character,fight and redemption he showed must be well appreciated.As people say when you hit rock bottom,the only way left to go is “UP” and His aerial ability was superb😂

    And a small point on david luiz,As much as he suits into MA’s system,he defended really bad and i am not talking about the challenge.Watch the replay not highlights and you ll understand.

    And the double jeopardy law says that if it is a genuine attempt to win the ball inside the penalty box and yet it ends ina foul,you have to give a yellow card and a penalty.And i cant see the reason why that is not a genuine attempt by david luiz.VAR has agendas,end of discussion.(But must say that there were some decisions against chelsea too,Saka’s handball for example)

    1. Shakir, I am not a big fan of double jeopardy but I do think that was a red – my son was with you. Regardless it was close. And I think we lucked out on a few handballs yesterday so maybe it balanced in the end…

      1. If not for that red card we could have won the game in my opinion and all this season when it comes to making decisions against us it is always “CLEAR AND OBVIOUS”.Maybe the referee’s decision forced VAR but they have overturned a few havent they.Your opinion is different and i respect that and as you mentioned we missed on a few handballs but it is not balanced,we were down to 10 men for 2/3 of the game.We could have lost by 6-0 if not for the fight we showed( i cant tolerate VAR any longer)

        VAR is biased,
        “van dijks hand becomes a shoulder”for VAR(though not against us)
        “jorginho does not pull guendouzi but combs his hair” for VAR
        “Pepe dives ” for VAR
        I could go on and on and on but i will stop because the word “CLEAR AND OBVIOUS “gets unclear as the season goes on

        1. agreed, VAR or not using VAR has not been kind to us. I do wonder sometimes about my objectivity though as I have been a lifelong fan of one team in a bunch of different sports leagues.

          Sadly right now all are somewhat similar to Arsenal – fantastic histories (for example Montreal Canadiens – winningest NHL, etc but they really suck right now) but not very good in the present with pretty sketchy coaching and management.

          Where I question my objectivity is that I think all of them get more bad calls than good. 🙂

          1. Stewart, There speaks an honest, wise and self analytical man. Not to mention your welcome maturity too. Totally self honest football fans are rare in number. Self foolers populate all club fans sites. If anyone you doubts this truth go on them and see for yourself!

        2. We COULD have won without the red card but I doubt we WOULD have won.
          We stepped up when down to 10 men because we had to and it’s a common reaction when you have a player sent off.
          A great fight back and I didn’t see VAR having anything against us last night, in fact it missed a handball by Guendouzi late on that I thought could have been a pen against us.

          1. When we were playing 11 men we were causing chelsea problems,frank lampard accepted it himself.Specially when mesut drops into the right to play 2 on 1s with pepe the oppsite flanks become signifiacntly free which allowed the attack to be carried on from that side.Pepe and ozil attracts half the midfield and defence which allowed our double pivot and the left flank along with laca to lead the attack.And when the pressure mounted it was always a back pass to luiz and he tries a diagonal to either pepe or martinelli which quite unfortunately didnt work out yesterday(maybe because of the reception he was getting from the bridge faithfuls).We were clearly playing according to a plan and getting a grip on….and that red card happens.

  5. I commend Mustafi,s spirit after the latest of a long string of mindless gaffs.He played his heart out to make amends.
    But the fact is he is a liability at premier level.He may have been in a World Cup winning team but at Arsenal he doesn’t have enough players to carry him! He has to go I,m afraid this is not something that will go away!

  6. To suggest that Mustafi has the”potential” to be a great defender is wide of the mark for two reasons.Firstly he is not a young , up and coming player who has scope to improve.He has reached his peak, and his peak, quite frankly is not good enough.Secondly,if there was room for improvement, why has no other Club come in for him?He has effectively been available for two seasons, yet nobody is interested.Ask yourself , why?

    1. You dont need to be a young player to unlock your potential.If you are old it may be easier(with experience) or way harder(with the mistakes you have made) but the second argument stands.

  7. Nice balanced write-up on Mustafi. And well done banning that poster. Mustafi will never be a great defender but he can be consistently competent for someone. Probably not for us though – too much water under the bridge. Unless someone comes in though I think he needs to stay until the summer.

  8. i beg to differ with the author of this fine article. mustafi does not have talent, he merely has moments between committing stupid and rash and costly fouls and mistakes,of relative calm, possible sleeping on the job !.to say he is talented is somewhat pushing it i feel . i know people will come back and say that he was part of the world cup winning squad. okay, but when was that ?, if we are to go on world cup winners then i suggest you look no further than ozil, once world class , now , just a passenger .football, in my opinion, is about the here and now, in other words , the next game. forget what happened years ago, thats called history

    1. HURRAY FOR THE PLAIN TRUTH, TOLD EXACTLY AS IT IS! Well said Gerry! Too many students of “ancient football history” on this site, referring back to days long past and no longer relevant! Bobby Charlton also won the WORLD CUP. Perhaps some of these fools think we should buy him!

  9. As an arch realist, I state that you CANNOT be both good and bad. They are opposites and cannot exist in one person. I realise what the article was trying to ague but I reject its wrong conclusion. Defenders prime job is to prevent the opposition scoring, so if they constantly aid the opposition, as he regularly does, there is no way they can also be good. BY DEFINITION! If you cannot do a reliable and regular job of keeping the opposition forwards out, then you are no good. And NO GOOD is precisely what Mustakefi is, in almost every game he misplays. PLAIN UNAMBIGUOUS TRUTH! You can drive well for ninety minutes but then have a fatal crash, by your own fault, in the last minute but no one then says you drove well for 89 minutes. Do they! And nor should they!!

    1. If they did, Jon, they would have to tell that person through a spiritualist how good their driving was for 89 mins! 😉

  10. You right, an error prone, always one to ruin it all, just as Luiz can be, we walking on eggshells at center defense! Scary stuff each time i see line up, Im sadden. Oh Mo, not again and again and again and again again; same formation in that central defensive zone with 2 midfield playing defense all game long!

  11. Unfortunately, I can’t see Mustafi becoming a great defender. He has had more than enough chances to prove himself. Like some other players on this team he can generate good stats that make him look good: blocks, last ditch tackles, headers etc.
    Some of these will be generated from back to the walls type defending which Arsenal found themselves in last night. A modern defender needs to be much more than this however. Also, in almost every match he makes bad decisions, major errors etc such as seen yesterday. This puts everyone else in the team under pressure because you just don’t know what he’s going to do next and you cannot be confident when he is in defence.
    Luis is less error prone but he does make bad decisions at times. He is also one of the best passers amongst the defenders which is probably one of the reasons managers like him.
    For now Arsenal haven’t many options so Mustafi will get to play. The sooner this defence is overhauled the better. Difficult to see it happening however.

  12. He needs to go. Costs us points every other match. It doesn’t matter if you play well for 89 minutes, if you are costing us points in every game in the one minute you decide to switch off. That is called a bad defender, and Mustafi has over and over again done this. sell, sell, sell.

  13. 2 points on why I disagree with this article. The first is having a footballer brain of a defender. No defender with the correct soundness of mind will do a back pass to goalkeeper with his back facing the goalkeeper. You do not know if the the striker would be lurking behind to pounce on it. He has also has a habit to pass the ball back to goalkeeper when under slight pressure from opposition striker or when arsenal is in a losing position. This is something that annoys me. Second is his poor attitude of blaming others instead of reflecting on his own fault. This can be seen a few times with one good example is the match where Crystal Palace Zaha nick the ball from him and score. He was staring at Leno as if it was his fault. You can never call a player with zero footballing sense a talent. Even if he has talent, he will not make it due to his attitude.

  14. Mustaffi picked himself up after that error to post a solid performance.he should be commended for such show of character and resilience

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