Shkodran Mustafi says Arsenal are benefiting from the clear and simple instructions of coach Mikel Arteta.
The Gunners extended 2020’s unbeaten run to nine games with a 1-0 win against Olympiacos collecting a third consecutive clean sheet along the way.
Mustafi, who was told in the summer that he was surplus to requirements, has played well in the centre of defence in all three of those games repaying the faith shown in him by the Spaniard, who might easily have dropped him following a clanger against Chelsea.
Facing the media in Athens, he revealed that Arteta “speaks about things I have never heard before” and praised him for relaying “simple things, but simple things you have to remember.”
He added: “These days football is so quick and complicated because there are a lot of systems out there, a lot of stuff you have to think about, but you start to forget about the easy things.
“He is putting this in the team. I think we still need to work on it a lot as sometimes we complicate our lives too much, but I think he has had a very good impact.”
Mustafi, not for the first time this season, also touched on how he coped when he was out of favour earlier in the season.
“In the beginning of the season, not being selected, not making the squad, it has been difficult,” he said.
“But I am a person who tries to see more the positive things than the negatives. I think that helped me a lot. Having my family around me – my kids, my wife – because life is not only football. That’s something I kept remembering to myself.
“Being in training every day, playing a lot of games, you get a lot of attention but still at the end of the day I am a father of two kids and I try to focus on this as well.”
He added: “That’s not like you should think as a professional. You always get the opportunities and a team has more than 20 players for a reason.
“The main thing for me was to be professional because as long as you stay professional, you have no fault for anything. Stay professional, wait until you get your next opportunity and then obviously you have to take it.”
Mustafi is under contract at the Emirates until the summer of 2021. It still feels like we’re a long way from a conversation about keeping him on the books, but he confirmed he’d be open to sitting down with the club if they suggested it.
“I have always taken things day by day,” he said. “I always gave everything until the last minute and when I decide or when the club and I decide it is going to continue I am happy to continue. If not then we have to go forward.”