At the end of last season, there was a general consensus among the fans of Arsenal that the club was a about two to three players short of being a formidable side. And to the delight of the fans, Wenger signed several key players including Germany international Shkodran Mustafi, who has since taken the place of Mertesacker in the team and gave stability to the defense of Arsenal.
The 24-year-old German has excelled defensively and relished the physical side of England’s top flight, something that is commendable given the high intensity levels and ever-changing pace of the game itself.
Mustafi has garnered 20 appearances for Arsenal and is yet to taste defeat. Hector Bellerin has been questioned about his perception of the tough-tackler and the young Spaniard reckoned that Mustafi has improved the team.
“He has been a great addition to the team,” Bellerín stated. “He has adapted really well to the way we play. He likes to come out and look for people up front, doesn’t kick long balls, he looks to play the ball on the floor and that’s really important to the way we play.”
With a pass completion rate of 83%, 19 tackles and 43 interceptions in the Premier League since his arrival in north London, it’s clear to see that Mustafi has helped the backline improve as a unit.
“Defensively he has grown since the first day,” Bellerin continued. “He is really confident around the other players, he will tell you what to do, he is a World Cup winner as well and a leader. The stats show he is a very positive defender and he is helping us get clean sheets.”
“I feel very confident when I play with him because I know someone has got my back as well – not just the goalkeeper, you also know Shkodran will be there. I really like playing with him.”
It’s clear that the German’s presence was sorely missed during back-to-back defeats at the hands of Everton and Manchester City before Christmas and despite a rusty return during a last-gasp 3-3 draw against AFC Bournemouth on January 3, he was defensively solid when called upon against Swansea last weekend.