Mustafi: When Bould talks, you listen

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Shkodran Mustafi says Steve Bould’s unwavering attention to detail means mistakes by Arsenal’s defence are always scrutinised, even when the club is on a winning run.

While many of his training ground colleagues were culled in the aftermath of Arsene Wenger’s exit, Bould retained his assistant head coach credentials when Unai Emery was appointed, providing a level of continuity during the club’s state of flux.

He’s had to adapt under the new regime and now shares his duties with Juan Carlos Carcedo. While the Spaniard is a more animated presence on the touchline during games and in the warm-up, Bould’s presence and experience remain vital, as Mustafi explained.

“Steve is always there, always giving us a hand,” he told the pre-Sporting Lisbon press conference.

“With his experience, when he tells you something he sees in training, you listen very carefully. With his experience, you have to listen to him.

“I don’t feel that he’s now trying to create something new. He looks carefully at what we do, especially when things are wrong.

“When things are going good, it’s easy to not look at the small mistakes but he still looks at everything and when he sees something where we can improve, he’s always there to try and give us a hand.”

To a certain extent Arsenal’s 14-game run and success in front of goal has papered over the fact that our defence still looks pretty ropey at times.

The introduction of Lucas Torreira has brought balance to the midfield and as the players get used to Emery’s football philosophy you’d expect to see improvements at the back as the season goes on.

Mustafi is already optimistic about the changes he’s seen implemented.

“I think that we are very good [when] attacking, and that makes the defensive work a bit easier,” he noted.

“When you attack well, and even when we lose the ball, we press straight away to win the ball back high up the pitch.

“That makes it easier for us to defend because you don’t always have to go back 60 or 70 yards back to win it in your own box.

“We are very good at attacking but with that, we still prepare being in the right position to recover when we lose the ball as quickly as possible.”

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Pedant
Pedant

Fascinating stuff. I was never sure what Bould did under Wenger, no-one talked about him at all. Arsenal legend so good to hear he makes a difference.

And fascinating stats, worse looking but better results!

santori
santori

This is why stats do not necessarily tell the entire picture.

We will need to tighten in defense more.

We are still far too vulnerable to crosses directly into defense. The spatial awareness is something Bould and Emery will need to work on.

The Van Dyke chance from a deep free kick came in between Mustafi and Bellerin.

Communication is an issue but generally also defensive awareness.

The other long standing issue is runners into the box.

The offside goal for Liverpool (and Mane was actively distracting the keeper), Mustafi perhaps gambled stepping forward to catch Firmino off but the runner (Mane) should have also been tracked by Torreira.

Defense is not just an issue of Cbacks or fullbacks but the entire team.

As good as Torreira and Xhaka were, there were still some faults to work on.

rogerbij
rogerbij

I would counter, that why ‘points/results’ don’t tell the whole story, and that list of stats gives more insight and nuance. Our results are not better because we are clearly playing better. The likelihood is that we will return to mean shortly, so we better improve fast! And don’t get me wrong, Im happy with Emery because he is a breath of fresh air. But lets not imagine there has been a revolution either.

GraeB
GraeB

I still maintain that it was only injury to Bould that stopped us doing the unbeaten season in 1991 so have high regard for his performance as CH. Unfortunately it has taken this long for anyone to comment on his backroom influence – and then it comes from Mustafi.

Surely Bould remembers all the George Graham training for defenders but seems to have done little to resolve our woeful defending for the last 10 years. Previously we put it down to Wenger but now…?

TeeCee
TeeCee

I reckon that says a lot more about Wenger than about anyone else.

Bring back David Hillier
Bring back David Hillier

I don’t remember Bould doing many sliding tackles. Hopefully he can stop Hank Scorpio doing this, or at very least, do it much better than he does at moment. Mustafi is so frustrating. He was top notch against the scousers, but has been found wanting in too many games.

santori
santori

But he is not the only one with faults.

Monreal has been caught out of position many times too this season. As has Bellerin.

Holding himself was caught out against Liverpool which led to a chance for Mane.

The problem is people tend to look for the faults in Mustafi but that makes them conveniently ignore the rest of his game.

He has also been sending (against Palace) very good balls over the top to release the forwards quicker from deep.

Donald's Trump
Donald's Trump

Hank Scorpio. Why am I only hearing this now?

KongoKim
KongoKim

Ha, nobody says italy!

Andy Mack
Andy Mack

Bould did plenty of sliding tackles. The difference is that the refs allowed him to clear out the opposition player, without giving away a free kick/ penalty provided he got the ball sometime during the tackle.
The game has changed and the refs are officiating the game much differently now.

Irrational Gunner

More reason for Mustafi to stay on his feet.

Andy Mack
Andy Mack

Agreed.
But Bould did plenty of slide tackles because he was allowed to then.

Red-Sky
Red-Sky

For a moment there I thought we weren’t the ones who conceded 14 goals in 11 matches.

Nope
Nope

Mustafi, when Bould was talking last season was your hearing impaired?

TheMerse1985
TheMerse1985

Working (with the greatest of respect as I love the man dearly) for a guy who was known for being uncollaborative and dictatorial yet a proponent of unstructured foootball. This indicates what I’ve heard before – of Emery being much more of a collaborative guy, and with a strong attention to detail that likely lends to faith in Bould if he is of the same ilk.

Tungor_Adams
Tungor_Adams

All good, even better if you listened as well

santori
santori

Just saying again, people tend not to see what is in front of them.

Instead they look for faults in certain players but do not understand what is being attempted by the gaffer.

Mustafi attacks the ball high up the pitch to put pressure on Liverpool players early before they can turn on the defense.

The key is to do it with cover behind and that is where Holding has been effective.

The relationship between the two would be like Campbell and Toure. The Ivorian attacked the ball higher up where Sol would sweep up deeper.

No surprise therefore that Mustafi’s stats (and Holdings) which you won’t see trumpeted on the selective “By the Numbers” were very good against Liverpool (a team the media would deem to remind us are lightyears ahead of us)

Duels Won (%) : Mustafi (90)/ Holding (70)
Aerial Duels Won (%) : Mustafi (83.3)/ Holding (75)
Clearances : Mustafi (9)/ Holding (7)
Intercepts : Mustafi (5)/ Holding (2)
Passing Completion (%) : Mustafi 92.6/ Holding 91.4

Are there issues still? Sure.

BUT these stats are worth bearing in mind unless you should be the type to decide to ignore them when convenient.

It is not by coincidence that Mustafi continues to start for the team.

allezkev
allezkev

The only stat I’m focused on is 12 wins and 2 draws

skesh
skesh

You don’t take in to account the losses?

Lord Bendnter
Lord Bendnter

Best comment 👍

Mwani Coutinho Xavi

Thats why you aré called “lord bendtner”
Lol

Santori
Santori

There’s such a level of conceit sometimes… Holding out of r a hero really? When Mustafi’s stats are better. Too many people don’t see what is in front of them and prefer to see what they want.

Like what Mustafi was saying at conference…when we attack we are all attacking players, when we defend we are all defending.

This has been an issue for the longest time. With a functioning midfield now, we have an opportunity to close space better.

KongoKim
KongoKim

just not true mate. a lot of goals came from individual/unforced errors. in some mustafi played a part.

A Different George
A Different George

Torreira, who had a great game, made one terrible pass directly to (I think) Salah. But the rest of the defenders made it irrelevant. A single mistake alone rarely leads to a goal, except for keepers, or conceding a penalty–and even there, it is often the end of a chain of smaller errors.

btw
btw

“Too many people don’t see what is in front of them and prefer to see what they want”

Good thing we have Santori to save of from this onslaught of people that just don’t understand football, what would we do without him to correct their false opinions?

Mother
Mother

Fucking hell, how many more posts are you going to make regarding your undying love for Mustafi?

Jack4343
Jack4343

We are worst in every stay except goals scored and goals conceded. Funny, those are the only two stats that directly contribute to wins and losses. The rest of the stats sometimes are better suited for lining bird cages.

Ya gooner
Ya gooner

Maybe we are having more shots in key areas anf giving our opponents more shots, but in worse areas? Does that explain our clinical finishing amd ‘lucky’ defending?

KongoKim
KongoKim

no we have not, laca and auba just contribute something welbz, giroud, adebuywhore, that dutch cunt and even bendtner and park never had. i like welbz and ollie(still) a lot but as i said they offer something different. Since Dennis i can’t think of any striker who scores from angles like laca, period.

Ya gooner
Ya gooner

Still doesn’t explain the defensive stats

KongoKim
KongoKim

Im laughing right now with the picture in my head Bould waving with his hands when he gets outplayed.
No seriously, interesting stuff here + i don’t think people do wrong on mustafi criticising him, but he will step up and will be a very very good defender in the following games.

Best Coast Gunner

I’ve seen these stats going around and I think they make complete sense. Wenger wanted his team to get into the best position possible before shooting so to have little to no variance in our goals and Xg under Wenger makes sense. Emery has encouraged his start strikers to have a go and when you have the talent the team does upfront they’re going to score from positions any Xg model doesn’t consider very likely. I’d like to see the splits for home and away under Wenger and this season under Emery because I think that’s where you’re going to see the most telling difference.

asda
asda

The thing is, those positions are considered not likely by any xG model precisely because it’s not likely that you will score from there, and that’s why there is usually correction of goals scored, getting much closer to xG.

There’s quite a bit of misunderstanding around of what xG actually means.

Best Coast Gunner

No, I completely understand that but a more skilled individual stands a higher chance of scoring from these statistically low scoring area then does an average one. These are all based on averages from all players in all competitions but there are always going to be outliers and they tend to be the more skilled players, which Arsenal have currently in their group of strikers.

asda
asda

I understand what you are saying and it makes sense, but the answer is no, not really. First, in the long run it’s pretty likely that even the likes of Barcelona 2015/16, and Suarez and Messi individually will score close to their xG, as can be seen by scrolling down here https://understat.com/league/La_liga/2015 (keep in mind that Opta above has probably much more precise data than the one on the page I’ve linked).

Second, the inevitable variations tend to be relatively small. For instance, 17/18 city accumulated +14 over xG over the whole season, the Arsenal for this season is currently at +9, which is essentially an order of magnitude larger deviation. (But keep in mind I’m using these worse quality public numbers and taking them with a pinch of salt.) I don’t see how it could be argued that we are supposed to be ‘more clinical’ cause we have ‘better quality’ or ‘better chances’ than than Barcelona 15/16 or City 17/18 (or virtually any other team). It might happen, but can hardly be expected because of such an argument.

An intuitive explanation of why this is so is that xG depends much, much more on the conditions under which the shot is taken than on the player. Another thing is that when a player gets lucky a few times than he tends to take (and waste) more speculative shots. That said, one player I can see consistently punching above his xG weight is confident Ozil.

On the other hand, looking at the understat data for this season the picture is by far not as bleak as it might seem from the screenshot in the article; almost the whole of our xG deviance comes from the Fulham match and Ozil’s strikes.

Hi-brid
Hi-brid

% of successful passes in opposition half under Wenger 17/18 that were in a horseshoe formation around the edge of the box – 95; % of successful passes in the opposition box under Emery 18/19 that actually carry some penetrative threat – considerably higher than last year.

asda
asda

From where is the 95% stat you mention?

Shire Gooner
Shire Gooner

Probably the 95% of statistics that are made up…
He does have a point in that the pointless horseshoe possession of late era Wenger was often, well, pointless.

Lord Bendnter
Lord Bendnter

Torreira wasn’t playing in the first couple of games, and he was eased in slowly. Emery is a new coach who implemented new ways. And new ways take time. Remember our goalkeeper and defenders playing out from the back in the first couple of games? That was quite scary!
That’s why I don’t care about these Wenger comparison stats. Let’s compare after twenty or twenty five games.

Shire Gooner
Shire Gooner

Well said. We need to give Unai at least two transfer windows before we begin to form any real judgement, until then, it’s just a work in progress.

Gunnerdog
Gunnerdog

The stats just look worse, but are a reflection of a more counter-attacking style of attack giving us better chances. We used to camp in the opposition box, creating numerous opportunities in a crowded box. The chances were more numerous but in less space. So the chances/finishing ratio was worse.

With counter-attacking, we have fewer attackers in their half, so even though our aggressive defense leaves gaps, we have the numbers running back in defense rushing and harassing the opposition when they make a break. Result: more chances for the opposition but they are rushed and miss more.

So it is deceiving, the stats look like we play worse, but actually it’s just a change of style. The “bad stats” most likely won’t change, but don’t think we are riding our luck, we are riding our new style and will get even better at it.