You may want to find a comfortable seat to recover from what you are about to read but recent stats of Shkodran Mustafi imply that he is Arsenal’s best defender and also one of the best in the World.
I know, it makes little sense after watching Mustafi last season, continuously struggling to remain upright or deal with any form of attack. His spatial awareness button seemed to permanently off and his ability to pass a ball was similar to that of a frenzied monkey on roller skates.
But the stats are stats! Like the ones that suggest possession is more valid than goals or the suggestion that White Hart Lane is the best place to watch champions league football. I had to get that in !
However, In three games Mustafi had thus far this season, the hulking defender has managed to keep three clean sheets, whilst his team mates have banged in 12 goals. At this rate, he’ll be back in the first team with the captains armband looking like a defender.
To be fair, when Arsenal played badly last season and that was quite a lot of the time, Mustafi, Ozil and Xhaka were the main targets for the disappointed supporters. Fans looked for answers when Arsenal finished outside the automatic champions league slot and focused on Mustafi.
Yet, one can’t excuse his lack of quality at times, even though his confidence was clearly eroded with every bum game he was involved in. In the games he has played in, he hasn’t exactly been confronted by the best attacks in the world of football but some improvement, which in this case is about a thousand percent, is better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.
His thunder has now been stolen by David Luiz, who has assumed the role of the jelly legged centre back and is currently under the microscope for every suspect goal.
Stats are indeed a mysterious thing and in a comparison, between Mustafi and Virgil van Dijk, Mustafi was clearly the better player for the 2018/19 season.
Tackle success %
But the stats don’t carry much truck with the fans, who tend to judge a player by his contribution or performance and sadly Mustafi can’t cover their eyes and play football at the same time.
If Mustafi really wants to establish himself as the villain, he needs to take a leaf out of Xhaka’s book. The Swiss international is the unchallenged king of sour stats and the new boo and his figure at the Emirates.
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He has lost possession 1425 times, conceded 152 fouls and has been dribbled past 124 times. Even more impressively he has 28 yellow cards, has conceded five penalties and committed 6 errors that lead directly to a goal. (*figures since 2016/17 season.)
Worse still was his decision to duck out of the way for the opening goal in the clash with Manchester United but that’s not a stat, it’s simply a dereliction of duty as a captain.
Is Mustafi about to make the biggest comeback in history to become a top defender ? It’s only three games, calm down.