Analysing Shkodran Mustafi's first big test for Arsenal against Chelsea
Shkodran Mustafi made his third Arsenal appearance alongside Laurent Koscielny on Saturday evening, in a 3-0 victory over Antonio Conte’s Chelsea side.
The German centre-half has hardly put a foot wrong since his move from Valencia for £35m and looked assured again, this time battling against Spanish striker Diego Costa.
Arsenal won the game thanks to goals from Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott and Mesut Ozil in what turned out to be a fairly routine victory against a Chelsea side with plenty of work to be done.
The 24-year-old was confident from the off-set, passing the ball well and coming out from the back with ease in order to start attacks. His pass rate was a successful 77%, and in truth many of his forward passes gave Arsenal a great ability to push on at the Chelsea defence.
Where he excelled further, was his defending. Mustafi looked like he had played at Arsenal for some time, and was built for hard-fought Premier League affairs. Out of a total of 24 interceptions made by Arsenal, Mustafi made six of them and between him and partner Koscielny, they made ten of them alone.
Out of 22 clearances, the defensive pair made 12 of them with Mustafi clearing the ball on five occasions. The ability for the pair to combine and halt the threat of Costa by working together was so successful that Costa become an extremely frustrated figure at times.
It looked throughout the match, that the centre-back pairing developed a bit of a routine. Koscielny, who won 83% of his aerial duels, dealt with the long balls towards Costa, and would then give the ball to Mustafi who would venture forward to find a pass. The pair would take it in turns or work together to intercept, clear and deal with threats.
The German, brought in to help fill the void left by the injured Per Mertesacker, has not made a single error to date thus far, and seems to be an ideal Arsenal player. In three games, he has a pass rate of 89%, seemingly assured on the ball and pushing forward in order to start attacks and find the right pass. He is also extremely capable of defending well, and his relationship with Koscielny is proving to be very successful. His game against Chelsea was his best yet, looking like a player who was built for the big occasions and to be successful in this Arsenal side.
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