Analysing Shkodran Mustafi's impressive performance against Burnley
Shkodran Mustafi put in another commanding performance as Arsenal secured a late 1-0 away win at Burnley to keep them in the hunt at the top of the Premier League.
The 24-year-old, who joined from Valencia in a £35 million deal in late August, has excelled since his arrival at Arsenal and once again was at the heart of a display in which the Gunners kept another clean sheet.
It was reported earlier in the week that Mustafi has already become a leader in the team, making sure all the players are up for every game, prepared to give players a dressing-down should they need it. This is the kind of player the Gunners have really needed over the past few seasons.
Since playing with partner Laurent Koscielny, the side have not conceded from open play in four league games. While Koscielny is often described as one of the best in the division, having someone with the commitment and experience of Shkodran alongside him seems to take the side to the next level.
During the match at Turf Moor, Mustafi was seemingly heading away every ball. He won five aerial duels, which included getting involved in many occasions with the Burnley strike-force, and taking an elbow to the face. Taking his heading accuracy further, he made 13 clearances in keeping Arsenal from conceding in the game.
In comparison, the match-winner Koscielny only cleared away three. A partnership in which Mustafi wins the ball and finds his centre-back partner to bring the ball forward is developing quickly.
To be fair however, the German has an 81% pass accuracy rate himself. During the game, he showed a great ability to bring the ball forward with urgency to find a pass and get Arsenal in good positions. The goal came about after Mustafi was pushing forward, delivering balls into the box and finding players in good positions.
The 24-year-old had himself up for the game from the off-set. While the rest of the team seemed lethargic to begin, Mustafi was not in that description. He won the ball back more than any player on the pitch in the first half, and his concentration was immaculate.
While his centre-back partner will get the headlines for his match-winning goal, it is the German who has put Arsenal in a much more exciting position this season, with his ability to lead and provide excellent defensive experience alongside one of the best centre-backs in the league. Playing like that, it won’t be long before the Arsenal centre-backs will be described as the best pairing in the league.