Mustafi: Arteta’s simple instructions driving improvement

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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.”

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Dave
Dave
1 month ago

He seems like a genuinely nice bloke.

A Gorilla
A Gorilla
1 month ago
Reply to  Dave

yes mate. The Shkodrannaissance continues

yen
yen
1 month ago

Massive respect for him. Gotta have great mentality to get from an outcast to a first XI starter again, given his history with us.

DaDude
DaDude
1 month ago
Reply to  yen

Agree completely. He seems to have massive mentality depite having been almost sorted out. I thought of that when again he had a clash of heads with the Olympiakos player. He also had such scenes in the last games, in one even came out with a (gladly not so bad) foot injury. He fights the duels that really hurt, but these are the important ones. If I judge strictly according to the “clean slate start for everyone under me” quote by Mikel, then I have to say that this is a player that should be kept due to the displays… Read more »

Badaab
Badaab
1 month ago

Have to love the sly digs at emery’s over complicated instructions, particularly since unai spouts nonsense about us every chance he gets.

Atom
Atom
1 month ago
Reply to  Badaab

I’m not an Emery fan (I think he came across as a decent guy while here) in the sense he didn’t fit the club, but there’s been a fair amount of mud slinging on both sides at this point. Quite a few players (Ozil in particular) have been more than happy to keep telling the press how much better life is under Arteta. I’m sure Emery feels the need to “protect” his reputation at this point. Neither Emery nor a lot of the players exactly covered themselves in glory the past 18 months. Onwards to better things now.

goonero
goonero
1 month ago
Reply to  Badaab

Mustafi said the exact same things shortly after Arsene left in the first few months of the Emery era, I thought he was throwing shade then too but I’m beginning to think this is just his go to speech.

Lobsta
Lobsta
1 month ago
Reply to  goonero

He seems like a decent enough guy but, as you have pointed out, he’s not averse to aiming a few shots and throwing (former) managers right under the bus. Mustafi:

“He [Emery] told me the positives in my game and what to work on. I’m happy because it’s difficult when you never know what to work on because no one tells you.”

Isaac Oni
Isaac Oni
1 month ago

To be fair, Mustafi has been very solid in recent games. Doesn’t go down like he used to and less mistakes than before. I am open to keeping or selling him. At least Arteta has helped drive his value up. In fact the value of most of the players in the squad has increased.

Lee Meade
1 month ago

Astounding result for him. And the team. “Surplus to requirements” was as kind as it could be considering his string of bad performances. Arteta is filling a trophy case worth of reclamation projects. Mustafi (if this continues) might become the most outlandish of them all.

Dave
Dave
1 month ago
Reply to  Lee Meade

He appears to be an expert man manager.

Atom
Atom
1 month ago
Reply to  Dave

Think lot of it is down to he plays a system that helps protect the defenders vs the Emery whatever he was doing and Wenger’s leaving them to fend for themselves

C.B.
C.B.
1 month ago

There are lots of easy things:

Get to the ball before them
Keep the ball
Keep it in their half as much as possible
Run hard if you lose the ball
Pass to Auba in space
Get it in their goal

to do.

HelderHughes
HelderHughes
1 month ago
Reply to  C.B.

I think a lot of things that Arteta is sorting out are a hangover from the Wenger era. I was no more a fan of Unai than the rest of the fan base but I haven’t seen an arsenal team work as hard and passionately for about ten years.

We really got complacent as a football club from top to bottom and it’s so refreshing to see invigorated players fighting for the badge.

Jon Sawai
Jon Sawai
1 month ago
Reply to  HelderHughes

When u put that the hangover was fromWenger era ..It seems to also say Emerywas pretty much useless…We were a legit big 6 team when Wenger left .under Emery, we have gradually slide to mid table mediocrity… Under MA we seems to be slowly climbing out of the hole emery put us in, to the place where Wenger originally left us.MA seems to have us sorted out defensively..but offensively i think there is still a lot room for improvement. Once he srted out our attack we will become a big 6 and big 4 team again… I look forward to… Read more »

Cultured determination
Cultured determination
1 month ago
Reply to  C.B.

Yup. 7 players in their half. 3 in the box. 3 stay back in preparatiom of fouling when we lose the ball.

paulo
paulo
1 month ago

“I always gave everything until the last minute the moment I appear not to be favourite to win the ball, at which point I normally opt for hurling myself spread-eagled in a randomly determined direction”

In fairness – when he’s good, he’s really good – the whole CB package. But I for one need some more convincing that the inexplicable errors have vacated his wheelhouse for good.

Jeremy
Jeremy
1 month ago
Reply to  paulo

To be fair to him, even the best defenders in the world make mistakes. He will make another one, because it is human nature. As long as it is one or two a season and not a clanger every every 3 games and I will be more than happy. His heading ability is sensational. I saw him clear 3/4 of the pitch (carry) with a defensive header last night.

A Different George
A Different George
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeremy

In the last month or two, I have seen Virgil Van Dijk, surely one of the best central defenders in the world, make two potentially disastrous errors (one was a back header into an opponent’s path, the other a short pass directly to an opponent). I don’t remember exactly how (which is the point), but one of his teammates bailed him out each time, and everyone forgot about it. Mustafi has made many more errors than Van Dijk, of course (and, although he’s very good at his best, he’s still not as good as Van Dijk), but now not every… Read more »

Mpls
Mpls
1 month ago

He made some very key clearances this match, and dominated his marks in the air, which is notable for not being the tallest defender around. I noticed one clearance in particular when a shot came off Leno into a very dangerous place and Mustafi had a very quick reaction to send it out safely.

He had a good match. Even his one trademark slide got the job done. And the rest of the match he kept his feet.

Arteta must just have ‘stay on your feet’ playing for him on endless loop. Let’s hope it continues to work.

HoldenontoArsenal
HoldenontoArsenal
1 month ago

AFC BA, Before Arteta, the noun Mustafied: a; to make a defining error b; a missed slide tackle. AFC AA, After Arteta, the noun Mustafied; a: to be falsely accused of incompetence b: ignorant and irrational accusation by football fans. Used in a sentence: The ignorant and irrational fans of Arsenal Mustafied one of their best defenders who was a World Cup Winner at 22.

T.A.
T.A.
1 month ago

Arteta is pulling a George Graham on this group of players. It’s absolutely wonderful to watch. GG used to always say that he likes to build a squad from the defence. One-nil to the Arsenal is back and has a beautiful ring to it

Santori
Santori
1 month ago
Reply to  T.A.

I wouldn’t big up Graham too much. There were too many dull games and we were erratic.

BUT all managers would say the same (bar maybe Wenger)

Defense is key. Might as well say its Mourinho…

Cyprus The Immortal Gooner
Cyprus The Immortal Gooner
1 month ago
Reply to  Santori

…and Graham gave us the basis that Wenger built on to make great teams when he arrived…The great defensive players/unit…

Diaminedave
Diaminedave
1 month ago

A bit like Arteta inherited from Emery 😉

Luther
Luther
1 month ago

That was a good defence Graham left, but it wasn’t a “great” defence. Don’t forget Robbie Fowler’s record breaking fast hat-trick, Micky Quinn’s hat-trick for Coventry at Highbury (imagine this team letting a fatso like Quinn score a hat-trick), or how they threw away a 2-0 lead at home to Norwich in our first ever Premier League game. Also, that defence was entirely English, yet only Seaman and Adams had stella England careers. If it was a truly great defence, then it would have easily got into the England team at a time when England were so shit. It’s a… Read more »

Modha
Modha
1 month ago

Even when he was going through the ringer, every interview he did, he came across a top bloke who was trying. Glad he is benefitting from Arteta

Clement
Clement
1 month ago

Well talk brother keep it high we behind you

Santori
Santori
1 month ago

Not too many people want to see a Mustafi article.:D I have a feeling Mustafi does not benefit from over complex instructions… BUT his qualities were always there and obvious. 1) Strength in the air. Wins an awful lot of duels which is particularly important given many teams like to attempt route one on us. 2) Deep passing from the back. He’s put in many good passes from back to front. I mentioned this many times all season and last that he is selected for a reason and that his team mates at the back also look for him to… Read more »

Mahfuj
Mahfuj
1 month ago

He’s a masterclass till now. When Arsenal will start losing then same people will criticise him badly…

Bodie CI5
Bodie CI5
1 month ago

Credit where credits due he aint playing to bad at moment

Charles
Charles
1 month ago

Keep improving with every other match and anything is possible.

Luther
Luther
1 month ago

I’m not going to say “I told you so”, and gloat about being one of the few supporters of Mustafi when he was making all those mistakes. But all I ask is that those who are now saying nice things about him, don’t change their tune if and when he loses his form again. Those who are now saying he’s a nice bloke, great defender, mentally strong, etc, should remember that he’ll always be all those things, regardless of his form. If he were to make another disastrous back pass, I hope fans don’t sarcastically cheer his subsequent passes that… Read more »

Anthony
Anthony
1 month ago

I’ve said it a few times on this site, this is the same player that many, including mysrlf were very happy to have arrive when he did. World cup winner. Impressive stats. Big aerial presence. His first run of games, impressive, commanding performances. Then he had an injury, made a high profile error upon his return and subsequently lost confidence in himself and the errors became more and more frequently. Then to be frozen out, no confidencw placed in him by the manager in a “system” that left him and our back line exposed. Was always going to end badly.… Read more »

Diaminedave
Diaminedave
1 month ago
Reply to  Anthony

That is something I noticed that after his first injury (for us) he came back into the team and his passing just seemed a little off and then slowly he seemed to loose more and more confidence. I think one of the guys on the Arsenal Vision podcast said something about him being given less to think about in dangerous situations and so instead of getting caught in two minds, he can then react quicker and so more likely to resolve the situation more favourably. Maybe someone finally made him realize that staying on your feet can be just as… Read more »

Attractedfern
Attractedfern
1 month ago

Shocking that a player who blames his fellow players/defenders/gk and flails his arms around after making basic defensive mistakes is now blaming his old managers. Sorry. Not buying it. Am sure Peter Cech isn’t either

Steve Morpurgo
Steve Morpurgo
1 month ago

Not only seems like a nice bloke but he has definitely improved under Arteta