Thursday, March 30, 2023

Defensive Steel Found: How This Arsenal Man Has Made The Gunners’ Defence Impenetrable

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Arka Tarun Mukherjee
Arsenal fan and football expert, Arka Tarun Mukherjee actually used to play cricket at semi pro level. An ardent student of football tactics, ATM is very passionate about the tactical aspects of the game and has a dream of being a football manager in the future.

Arsenal’s new boy Shkodran Mustafi has already made an impact at his new club since his move from Valencia in the summer. The German defender cost Arsenal a massive £35m but it is looking like he is worth the colossal amount. Arsenal started the season conceding four goals against Liverpool at home and after a goalless away draw at the King Power, another one was conceded against Watford.

Keeping a clean sheet proved to be difficult as Laurent Koscielny was overworked every time and had to be at his absolute best to save his team. A need for a centre-back who could impart solidity and help complement Koscielny was badly felt in those moments.

Mustafi played his first game for Arsenal against Southampton at the Emirates but the team conceded again with the new centre-back making a few mistakes as well. In his next game against PSG in the Champions League, Cavani scored right at the start and Mustafi’s mistake was clear for everybody to see in terms of his positioning. Fortunately, the first two games didn’t give us the picture of how efficient Mustafi is for he needed time to settle in, get familiar with his defensive partner.

A trip to Hull saw another goal shipped at the back but one could see the improvement in Mustafi already as he showed signs of confidence. The next game against Chelsea at home proved to be the stage where the 24-year old won the confidence of the Arsenal fans, tackling Diego Costa expertly alongside Koscielny.

In the last three games he has played, Arsenal haven’t conceded a goal and Mustafi has been nothing short of exceptional. Such has been his impact that now Laurent Koscielny is sometimes seen covering instead of going out to tackle being on the front foot. This sight is of great significance which proves that not only the German has gained the trust of his partner but also has formed a very good understanding with him as well perfectly being in sync in terms of role reversals by virtue of which they take their decisions of being either the aggressor or the covering player.

Averaging 4 successful tackles, 3.3 interceptions and 6.5 clearances per game in the Premier League, the former Valencia man has settled in very quickly, becoming an important performer for the team already.

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 28: Shkodran Mustafi of Arsenal controls the ball ahead of Seydou Doumbia of Basel during the UEFA Champions League group A match between Arsenal FC and FC Basel 1893 at the Emirates Stadium on September 28, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

Mustafi’s displays against Diego Costa and Sam Vokes were good enough to show that the German is not somebody who will be bullied by the physical strikers. He can stand tall against those players, battle till the end and come out at the end on top.

The Gunners have been missing this nerve at steel for a long time. Shkodran Mustafi thus is a player who is getting the fans excited with his displays each week as the Gooners are hoping that with Koscielny, the ‘KOSTAFI’ partnership can keep on producing shutouts at the back consistently to give the team a great chance of gunning for the long awaited Premier League title.

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