Arsenal manager Unai Emery has defended centre-back Shkodran Mustafi after his poor performance against Crystal Palace on Sunday afternoon.
The Gunners lost the opportunity to strengthen their top-four chances by losing 3-2 to the Eagles at the Emirates.
A bad afternoon for Mustafi: Five things you need to know…
- Mustafi has made 109 appearances for Arsenal since joining in 2016 from La Liga outfit Valencia.
- The German has started all 28 of his appearances this campaign, scoring a goal against both Manchester United and Cardiff City.
- The 27-year-old allowed Wilfried Zaha to score Crystal Palace’s second goal without attempting to challenge the forward.
- The result left Arsenal just two points ahead of sixth-placed Manchester United with three games to play.
- A win would have seen them leapfrog arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur into third place.
Despite Mustafi’s poor performance against the Eagles – a result that saw Roy Hodgson’s side secure their Premier League status – Arsenal boss Emery came out in defence of his centre-back.
Speaking to reporters, the former PSG boss claimed that it is a tough task to mark players such as Zaha and Christian Benteke and also insisted that his defender has been consistent with his performances throughout the campaign.
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Emery told Sky Sports: “He can play very well. I prefer to speak about the consistency in the season.
“We are helping every player to play with a big performance. Today also when you can defend against [Christian] Benteke and [Wilfried] Zaha you can suffer more.
“Over the season I think he has been consistent.”
“Mustafi ruined my weekend”
Understandably, Arsenal fans were far from happy with the performance Mustafi produced as the Gunners succumbed to their first Premier League home defeat of 2019.
Described as a ‘must-win game’ prior to kick-off, Arsenal fans took to Twitter in their droves to criticise what they witnessed at the Emirates on Sunday afternoon.
This was a must win game. 3 points for the taking. Emery's initial selection was a gamble, but at 1-1, we're playing really well. Mustafi ruins it. Ruins it like he does always. Ruins my weekend. Ruins top 4. Ruins Leno. Ruins Arsenal. Sell him first thing come summer.
— LTArsenal™️ (@ltarsenal) April 21, 2019
When we sell Mustafi I am going to hire out Finsbury Park and host a massive rave, everyone is welcome, we can celebrate together.
— MR DT © (@MrDtAFC) April 21, 2019
Mustafi will definitely play between now and the end of the season. And I wish him all the best in those appearances.
But I really really hope he’s gone in the summer. I’m all out of patience, all out of fresh starts. Enough now.
— gunnerblog (@gunnerblog) April 21, 2019
It wasn’t just Mustafi on the receiving end of the fan criticism, with Carl Jenkinson and defensive midfielder Mohamed Elneny also called out for their poor performances.
Some even blamed Emery for his team selection at such a critical moment in the Premier League campaign.
Jokes aside if Mustafi is in our squad next season, you will have to question the ambition of the club. He is on 90kpw and almost costs us every match he starts. He isn't good enough for a top half PL team.
Same goes with Jenkinson and Elneny. Not good enough to start for us.
— P™ (@Cechque) April 21, 2019
Emery has earned a lot of praise this season, but for the second time in two weeks, he must take the blame. Mustafi’s errors are unforgivable, but going into a must win game with Jenkinson and Mavropanos, and Guendouzi and Elneny in midfield is disgraceful. #ARSCRY
— Adam Keys (@_AdamKeys) April 21, 2019