Speaking after Arsenal’s draw with Sheffield United, Shkodran Mustafi has hailed Mikel Arteta for the work he has done in improving the side’s structure.
What did he say?
Despite the Gunners being held to a draw at home to the newly-promoted side, there were plenty of positives for the Gunners to take – not least the fact they limited the Blades to just four shots on target over the course of the 90 minutes.
And Mustafi has insisted Arteta done well in addressing the “problem” they had under the previous regime, and praised him for bringing back the north London side’s identity of wanting to dominate teams.
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He said (as quoted by Goal): “It is important to have him (Arteta) because he knows exactly what this team needs. Arsenal has always been a team that wants to play football, that wants to play with personality. That is exactly what he wants and I think he has done a good job putting the team together as every player knows what he is doing.
“At times in the previous games, we had a little bit of a problem where we were out there and we struggled a little bit with our structure. Since he came in we are very well structured.”
Under Unai Emery, Arsenal simply looked all over the shop, conceding 70 Premier League goals under the Spaniard – more than any other ‘big six’ club since the Spaniard took over. Not only that, they were making both individual and collective mistakes. They made 15 errors that directly led to goals, whilst Gunners legend Lee Dixon lambasted their performance against Watford as their “worst performance without the ball for a very long time“.
So when Arteta took over, it was hardly going to be an overnight job. And his record of just one win in the top-flight testifies to that. But the north Londoners have looked better defensively, conceding just the four shots on target against Sheffield United, and only three shots on target against Crystal Palace last week – a game where they went down to ten-men.
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So whilst the results may not show it, Mustafi makes a very valid point on how Arteta has already established a greater sense of structure and defensive solidity. It’s an Emery “problem” that the new head coach is helping to eradicate as quickly as possible.