Sunday 15 September 2019

Mustafi good enough for Arsenal, says Emery

Arsenal manager Unai Emery. Photo: Steven Paston/PA Wire
Arsenal manager Unai Emery. Photo: Steven Paston/PA Wire

Sam Dean

Unai Emery has launched an impassioned defence of Shkodran Mustafi after the Arsenal defender faced a barrage of criticism for his role in Sunday's 3-2 loss to Crystal Palace.

The head coach insisted that Mustafi has the quality to play for Arsenal and said the error that allowed Wilfried Zaha to score Palace's second was a tactical mistake rather than an individual blunder.

Mustafi has failed to convince since his £35 million move from Valencia in 2016 and Arsenal have previously tried to move the German on. Emery said the 27-year-old must improve his decision-making and stop going to ground, but made clear that the club would "need him" for the rest of the season.

"Mustafi is a very good centre-back," said Emery, whose side visit Wolves tonight in another crucial match in the race for the top four.

"He has the habit of doing a tackle and going to ground, using his anticipation against the opposition.

"He can win one [tackle], win two, win three, win four - but if he loses one he is the picture and if we concede a goal he is the big picture.

"You have to be clever about when to go [to ground]. He is young, he is improving and Sunday he is in the big picture because of the second goal.

"But it's not his mistake. The mistake was tactical because we need to protect him with two centre-backs against Zaha."

Emery, who usually offers up a team news update at his pre-match press conference, changed tack ahead of the Wolves game and kept his cards close to his chest.

Granit Xhaka could come back into contention following a hip injury with fellow midfielder Denis Suarez also being assessed following a groin complaint. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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