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.
Arsenal seemingly worse under Emery than during Wenger's last season in everything apart from actual goals scored and conceded (and therefore results).
It's enjoyable so far, but if things don't change there's probably a correction around the corner. pic.twitter.com/nEWajaoWox
— Orbinho (@Orbinho) November 6, 2018
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.”