Shkodran Mustafi says that he doesn’t feel bothered by criticism of Arsenal’s defence, insisting that the players at the back do a good job most of the time, and is instead fully focused on helping the club win the Europa League on Wednesday.
The German has had a torrid season at times, and overall the team has not been defensively sound – conceding 51 goals in the Premier League, the same as last season which was one of our worst on record.
Unai Emery hasn’t managed to make significant improvements back there, but Mustafi feels that people remember the mistakes defenders make more, whereas forwards can make up for a missed chance with another opportunity later in the game.
Speaking ahead of Wednesday night’s clash with Chelsea in Baku, the 27 year old said, “For me personally it’s not getting to me. Our job as defenders is of course, to try not to concede goals. If you make 90 per cent of your job and the 10 per cent your opponent scores a goal, people forget about the 90 per cent.
“At the end of the season if you make 70 points it’s for a reason, so I don’t think if the back is not doing its job you don’t make 90 per cent, because if you go into the game without the defence and only with attacking players I’m not sure you make 70 points.
“If a striker misses a goal, a penalty or whatever you get a new opportunity five minutes or 10 minutes later.
“For us as a defender, if you make one mistake and they score, you don’t have the opportunity even five minutes later and you save something on the line, people won’t talk about it.
“You get live and learn with it. It’s part of our job.”
Mustafi says that Emery’s style is perhaps part of the reason things have been so porous at the back.
“The coach prefers that we make mistakes but still play our game instead of just playing something and we cannot identify with the game we want to play,” he continued.
“At the end of the day, you want to finish a game knowing we’ve done this, this and this and that’s why we won, not how did we win that game because we were bad but we won, because that’s not going to be consistent.
“When you count all the games at the end of the season, you are not going to get away with just playing and hoping you are going to win if you don’t have an identity.
“That was our identity, we want to play, we wanted to press up high and we wanted to score goals.
“Obviously we wanted to not let other teams score goals, but as well it is a football game and other teams want to score as well.”
However, there is the chance to finish the season with a flourish, and a first European trophy in 25 years.
“We are going to go there and try and win this game and then after of course it would be nice to playing in the Champions League,” he said.
“First of all, we are happy to be in the final and we are going to give everything to win it.”