Mikel Arteta believes he can turn Shkodran Mustafi’s Arsenal career around after witnessing the defender’s positive reaction to his mistake against Chelsea.
The much-maligned German defender has featured prominently under Arteta since the Spaniard took charge at the Emirates Stadium.
Mustafi’s troubles in north London: Five key things to know…
- Mustafi joined Arsenal from Valencia in 2016 for a fee reported to be in excess of £35m.
- He’s since gone on to make 127 appearances for the Gunners under four different managers.
- Mustafi, though, has come under heavy criticism from supporters due to a string of lacklustre performances.
- The 27-year-old World Cup winner was linked to a move away from the Gunners last summer but ended up staying put.
- Arteta is now backing himself to turn Mustafi’s Arsenal career around.
Mustafi, who has a strained relationship with the club’s fanbase as a result of his lacklustre performances, was strongly linked with a move away from Arsenal last summer but a transfer did not materialise.
He’s since featured across 12 matches in all competitions this season, including last time out in the Premier League at Stamford Bridge, where he produced an error that contributed to centre-back partner David Luiz’s straight red card.
The 27-year-old dusted himself off and reacted well, playing a key role in Gabriel Martinelli’s equaliser prior to a hectic ending which saw Héctor Bellerín earn the Gunners a point late on.
Arteta, who is yet to settle on a fixed starting line-up – though that has largely been out of his control due to injuries and suspensions – has now complemented Mustafi for the way he bounced back and is confident the defender can eventually become a more stable presence under his guidance.
“I came here, he is here and his attitude is always right,” he said.
“He wants to help. He made a mistake, it’s OK. But I like the reaction. I look more at the reaction. Maybe it was Musti, the next day it will be someone else [making a mistake], the next day it will be myself.
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“I can accept a mistake, no problem. What I’m not going to accept is someone who makes a mistake and after he stops playing, he doesn’t want the ball, he doesn’t want to make decisions. That player is not acceptable for our team.
“But Musti, after that he tried to play every single time. He went for every single challenge, he put his body on the line. He was down afterwards, yes, but he reacted and if he does that, he will overcome the situation.
“I’ve worked with players like this, I’ve had team-mates like this and there is always a moment where there is a click.”
Mustafi may be given another opportunity to prove his worth on Monday night when Arsenal travel to Bournemouth in the FA Cup fourth round.