Arsenal boss Unai Emery has jumped to the defence of under-fire Shkodran Mustafi and insists he is a ‘very good player’. Mustafi was singled out for widespread criticism following his performance in Sunday’s 3-2 home defeat to Crystal Palace.
The 27-year-old has split opinion ever since he joined from Valencia for a reported £35million in 2016 but Emery believes the Germany international has the ability to be a success at the Emirates Stadium and that he is often unfairly singled out when things go against the Gunners.
“I want to protect the players, Mustafi is a very good player, a very good centre-back,” Emery said. “He has the habit – usually he is doing the sliding tackle and using anticipation against the opposition. He can win one, win two, win three, win four – but if he loses one he is the picture and if he concede a goal he is the big picture, Sunday was the same and happened with him.
“I have spoken to him: ‘You are young, you can improve and you need to work hard because you have a big quality for a centre-back.’ “He is young, he is improving and Sunday he is in the big picture because of the second goal. Who is in this picture? Mustafi – but it’s not his mistake. The mistake was tactical because we need to protect him with two centre-backs against (Wilfried) Zaha. I protect him because I believe in him.”