Shkodran Mustafi says that it’s not easy to play against Eintracht Frankfurt because they have a coach who has imprinted a clear identity on the way the team plays.
At a time when his own manager is under serious pressure, the comments might read as tacit criticism of Unai Emery and his constant tinkering, but the former German international made it clear that Arsenal will have to be fully focused to take all three points tomorrow night.
The Gunners won the first leg 3-0 in Frankfurt, but in truth the scoreline was a little generous towards us based on the balance of that game overall, and Mustafi – set to start for the fifth time in the Europa League this season – didn’t sound like a man taking anything for granted.
“Frankfurt is a team with a coach who has a very good identity,” he said.
“You can tell their idea of the game and how they want to play. Nothing is random, they’re very coordinated.
“The players knew what to do, how they were moving and it’s always difficult to play against very organised teams.”
“Even if you know how they play, you can’t always anticipate it as a defender. If you anticipate their attacking moves, you may open up different spaces for them to capitalise on.
“It’s a team with attacking strengths so you have to be focused for 90 minutes. They don’t hog possession without gaining any space. They’re very organised on the ball and want to get it back as soon as possible.
“It’s hard to play against teams like these. It’s not easy.”
Rob Holding is back in training having missed Southampton due to injury, and could line up alongside Mustafi at the back.
Hector Bellerin misses out with a hamstring strain, while Unai Emery hinted that there might even be a recall for Granit Xhaka.
“He’s in the group and has the possibility to play tomorrow,” said the head coach.
“I hope every supporter supports the team. Xhaka’s comeback is going to be important to us.”