Following his summer move from Valencia, plenty of people were intrigued to see how Shkodran Mustafi would settle into the Arsenal side, especially given the lack of defensive stability in that position for a number of years due to troublesome injuries and a lack of consistency when Koscielny-Mertesacker don’t start.
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.
He has now made 20 club appearances for Arsenal without suffering defeat and when quizzed by the club’s official website, defensive counterpart Hector Bellerín said it’s unsurprising given the number of qualities he has brought to the team and how the acquisition himself has helped improve the Spaniard’s confidence at the back too.
“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.