Tag Archives: Shkodran Mustafi

FIVE candidates to replace Hector Bellerin

There has not yet been official news out over the state of Hector Bellerin’s injury. Post match, Unai Emery described it as “not positive on first impression”.

From my years of watching football, it is safe to say that the Spanish right back will be out for the season.

It was one of those injuries where no one is near him, it was innocuous. The referee stopped play straight away and it was clear it was something serious. Whether is is an ACL injury or some other injury that we will now all pretend to be experts in, he will be out for some time. He might not return the same player.

With 10 days to go in the transfer window, Emery and the management  team have a decision to be made.

Do they attempt to bring someone in, or do they replace from within?

FIVE

The experienced right back was bought in to cover Hector Bellerin in case he got injured and has already started 13 games this season. It looks like father time has caught up on the serial winner.

He has been fairly average when playing. Some would be a lot harsher than that – although his worst performances have come when playing out of position in the centre of defence.

I doubt he will be with us next season, however he might find himself with a role to play this.

Will be the choice if we go for experience.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles

Against West Ham, Maitland-Niles was at right wing back ahead of Lichtsteiner. Although he was substituted on the half hour for Bellerin.

Whilst the utility man might see his future as a winger, and some fans see him as a central midfielder, it is at full back where he has started the vast majority of his games for Arsenal.

Of his 23 starts for Arsenal i neither the Premier League or Europa League, 19 have come at full back (14 at left back). His future at the club could well be as a full back.

Last season he was picked ahead of both Saed Kolasinac and Nacho Monreal at left back, such was his good form.

He has been out of form this season, but that is a lot to do with a lack of consistency in playing position.

Maitland-Niles certainly has the physical attributes to play at full back, he has pace and power and the engine to get up and down. He would also provide us the attacking outlet that the side relies on – our full backs are our width.

Defensive naivety is the concern.

He can switch off, or jog back when caught up the field. Although this is not unusual for a young full back.

Given the opportunity to play consistently at right back, his defensive instincts will naturally improve. He will also have Sokratis inside him and  – if we stick to the mdifield 3 who started against Chelsea – Lucas Torreira ahead.

If Maitland-Niles gets the chance, and proves himself to be adequate cover for Bellerin, it would mean we would not need to go out into the market in the summer to buy cover for Bellerin. The Englishman could step up as his long term understudy.

Carl Jenkinson

One of the criticisms of Maitland-Niles is “he is not a right back”. This line of thinking would lead some to support Carl Jenkinson starting.

It is incredible to think that Jenkinson turns 27 in February. He is certainly living the dream. But is living the dream enough?

He is certainly not a bad player – and it is easy to forget that he spent a year and a half at West Ham playing consistently at right back.

A bit like Maitland-Niles, if he gets a chance and takes it, the club may well decide that he is an adequate mid-term back up for Bellerin.

Personally I think he has had his chance, and it is time for someone else to get one.

If we are going to “give someone a chance” I would rather it be the younger man in Maitland-Niles.

Shkodran Mustafi

If I say we had a World Cup winning right back in our squad, you would probably ask “who?”. that man is German international Shkodran Mustafi.

Back in 2014, he was selected to start at right back in Germany’s round of 16 match against Algeria. It was only an injury that stopped him seeing out the tournament as Germany’s first choice full back.

Mustafi could do a job at right back, like he has done numerous times throughout his career. He would provide decent defensive cover, over and above anyone else on this list. However he will not provide any attacking threat.

At Arsenal, it is the full backs that give us the width. With no recognised wingers, playing Mustafi at right back would give us little to no threat on the right hand side.

Sign Someone

The last candidate is a new signing.

Whether it be a loan signing or a permanent signing, we would have 10 days to go out into the transfer market and secure someone.

The problem is who would we secure?

Someone on loan would likely not be playing at the club they are at. If they are not playing at AC Milan, Roma or whoever, would they then be a better option than Maitland-Niles? And would a top club in Europe, chasing a Champions League place, really want to loan out their second choice right back?

The alternative option is signing someone on a permanent deal, but who?

Do we go for someone who could be long term understudy for Bellerin? And if so how much should we invest in them – Aaron Wan-Bissaka would be north of £20m. Or do we go big. Go for someone better than Bellerin who will actually be his long term replacement. But is spending £35m+ on a right back sensible when we have so many other positions to upgrade on.

Keenos

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How will Unai Emery solve Arsenal defensive puzzle?

Unai Emery is facing a defensive puzzle.

With Rob Holding out for the season, yellow cards to both Sokratis and Shkodran Mustafi against Huddersfield means both are suspended for the game at Southampton on Sunday.

Not only does this give the Spaniard a headache for the Premier League match, but also disrupts his planning for the visit of Qarabag in the Europa League on Thursday.

Thursday’s game would have been used to give Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal a run out. Get 90 minutes of senior football under their belts after long lay offs.

Koscielny would have most certainly started at centre back, with Monreal at left back. The problem now for Arsenal is that with Sokratis and Mustafi now out, the pair are now likely to be our central defensive partnership against Southampton.

So what does this mean for Thursday?

Does Emery continue with the rehabilitation of Monreal and Koscielny by giving them 90 minutes against Qarabagm hope they both get through and hope recover quickly enough for Southampton at Sunday lunch time?

Or does he play Sokratis and Mustafi (injury permitting) against Qarabag, keeping Koscielny and Monreal out of danger for Sunday.

The fear will be against Qarabag, the one of either Koscielny or Monreal picks up a little niggle ruling them out of Sunday. This is highly likely. Small injuries often occur after a long lay off. And even if they do both get through unscathed, are either yet fully fit enough to play 90 minutes twice in less than 3 days?

Arsenal were already without first choice U23 pairing Daniel Ballard and Julio Pleguezuelo, as well as Kostadinos Mavropanos. This would mean that if either Koscielny or Monreal were to not fit for Sunday, either 18-year-old Zech Medly would start, or Arsenal would have to move either Stephan Lichtsteiner or Granit Xhaka into the back four.

Logic dictates that you do not involved Koscielny or Monreal against Qarabag. It would also make sense to not play Sokratis if Mustafi’s hamstring injury is to rule him out of further games.

So Medley and Big Carl Jenkinson it is then/

Keenos

Arsenal punished due to refereeing inconsistency

Referee Paul Tierney was completely correct in booking Granit Xhaka, Shkodran Mustafi and Matteo Guendouzi for diving.

We have to remember that a dive is not just feigning contact. FA rules state:

Diving is defined as an attempt by a player to gain an unfair advantage by falling to the ground and possibly feigning an injury, to give the impression that a foul has been committed.

Just because their has been contact, it does not mean that a foul has been committed. All too often, a player go’s to ground with minimal contact, rolls about feigning injury, exaggerating the contact, in the hope of gaining an advantage.

FIFA call this “simulation”. Just because you might have been touched, it does not give you a right to go down. If the contact was not enough to impede you, then it is not a foul. If, at the slightest brush, you then decide to go down instead of remain on your feet, you should be booked for diving.

Unfortunately, when it comes to diving, referee’s in England tend to be very inconsistent.

Against Huddersfield on Saturday, Tierney followed the rules of the game, booking Xhaka, Mustafi and Guendouzi. The problem is all too often referees wave play on.

We often see Dele Alli, Jamie Vardy, and others go down with little to no contact. The referee waves play on a we get on with the game. Against Leicester on Saturday Dele Alli feigned injury to give an impression that a foul had been committed. The referee in that game waved play on.

So Arsenal (rightly) got 3 players booked – one of which will lead to a suspension – whilst other players never get punished as referee’s wave play on.

Against Tottenham, Son Heung-min went down to win a penalty. Rob Holding lunged into a challenge, and made zero contact with the South Korean.

The media response was that due to Holding sliding in, Son had a right to go down. He did not. He cheated. He went down with no contact (or at most minimal) and rolled about feigning injury. He should have been booked. Instead the referee gave a penalty.

Mistakes happen, but what has happened since just highlights the inconsistency of the FA.

November last year, Everton’s Oumar Niasse was banned for 2 games having been deemed to have deliberately attempted to con referee Anthony Taylor to give a penalty.

The FA charged Niasse with “successful deception of a match official” and an Independent Regulatory Commission was unanimous in its decision to ban the Senegalese.

After the game, Crystal Palace’s Scott Dann (who made the challenge) said the referee had been “conned”.

 “I don’t like to see people getting punished but also I don’t like people diving to win penalties. [Niasse] probably knows he has conned them.

“If there was [contact] it was minimal. I haven’t tried to tackle him; he has gone past me and you can see on the replays he has dived. At half-time, [Taylor] probably knew he made the wrong decision.”

Replays showed that there was contact between Dann and Niasse, but it was extremely minimal. The Holding incident with Son was similar. If there was contact it was minimal.

Yet a week on from that game, Son has not been charged by the FA – let alone given a 2-game ban like Niasse. Meanwhile Arsenal have 3 players booked for similar incidents. Mustafi now suspended after reaching 5 yellow cards.

The incidents involving Xhaka and Mustafi had a similar level of “contact” as Son against us last weekend.

If the FA believe Xhaka and Mustafi were dives why have they not charged and suspended Son?

Too often they hide behind what the referee has “seen” and “not seen”. Were Xhaka and Mustafi incorreclty booked? Probably not. Should Son have been suspended for 2 games? Well the precedent is there with Niasse.

Further inconsistency was shown on Wednesday.

Marouane Fellaini pulled Guendouzi back by his hair. A similar incident happened back in 2016 when Robert Huth pulled back Fellaini by his hair. Huth was banned for 3 games.

In the incident with Guendouzi, Fellaini has escaped any retrospective action.

Now some will say you are only moaning because it is Arsenal and you are right, I am moaning because it was Arsenal. But up and down the country every weekend fans of clubs are complaining about referee decisions. We are all affected by it. The quicker VAR comes in the better.

All fans want is consistency.

Keenos