EPL

Mustafi admits criticism during Arsenal stay has been hard to handle

By Sports Desk January 16, 2020

Shkodran Mustafi concedes he has struggled to handle the pressure of criticism that followed some high-profile mistakes for Arsenal.

Germany international defender Mustafi joined the Gunners from Valencia in 2016 but his form has dwindled over recent campaigns.

This term, the 27-year-old has predominantly been used in the Europa League and EFL Cup, although Calum Chambers being out for the season and Konstantinos Mavropanos joining Nurnberg on loan means he could be granted opportunities to add to a solitary Premier League start.

"I just put my head down when all the criticism came at me and worked hard. I just closed my ears and focused on the work, and I think the fans kind of appreciated that," Mustafi said in an interview with Arsenal's official website. "I just worked my socks off to come back again.

"When the fans are on your side, it gives you so much more confidence. As a defender, it's always difficult because you always have pressure, especially when you don't have the ball and the opponents are attacking. Every little mistake and every little error you make can lead to a goal.

"When you win all your tackles, when you win everything on the pitch but then make one mistake that you're punished for, it destroys everything that you did before. This is something that makes this position so hard.

"You blame yourself a lot. I am quite harsh on myself as well when I make mistakes. This is something you have to learn to deal with because the next day you're straight back in training and you're focusing on not making the same mistake again.

"It's something that affected me but I had to deal with it because I didn't want to make the same mistake again, I wanted to come to the training ground and show them that I am going to be there for them, I am going to be there for the team, I am going to be there for the supporters."

Mustafi felt such scrutiny became harshly magnified by social media.

"On there, it's difficult to handle when things are going well and then when things are not working out it's even tougher," he said.

"When things aren't going well, obviously you don't like the stuff you read. You don't agree with a lot of comments, so it makes it difficult."

Even though he believes criticism directed towards him became too strong at times, Mustafi does not want to be viewed as a scapegoat and feels he and the club have common challenges to address.

"I wouldn't say [I was] a target because it's very hard if you say that. I don't think the world turns around me or that I'm the main point of the world," he said.

"But it was difficult sometimes to understand because even in a few bad games where I wasn't involved, I was the one to blame."

He added: "Next for me and the club is to bounce back. At the moment things are not going the way we want them to go.

"We just need to stay united as a team, a club, with our fans. The people who want the best for Arsenal, we have to stay united together and bounce back together."

Related items

  • Wigan Warriors reveal interest in buying Wigan Athletic Wigan Warriors reveal interest in buying Wigan Athletic

    Wigan Warriors have announced their interest in buying financially troubled football club Wigan Athletic.

    The Championship side went into administration last week and the English Football League confirmed a 12-point deduction would be imposed, though only if they finish outside the bottom three.

    However, an appeal has been launched over the penalty, as confirmed by joint administrator Gerald Krasner on Tuesday. 

    Wigan Athletic sit 16th in the table, six points clear of the relegation zone.

    Led by Warriors chairman Ian Lenagan and chief executive Gary Speakman, as well as former Oxford United owner Darryl Eales, the rugby league club have outlined their plan to purchase the Latics, with the bid backed by the local council.

    "Being born and bred in Wigan, Ian Lenagan and Gary Speakman understand what both clubs mean to the local community," a statement from the Warriors said.

    "We strongly believe that Wigan Athletic is better being locally owned.

    "As sustainability and ownership of the stadium is equally important to both clubs, we are currently working with our long-standing advisers KPMG and talking to external parties.

    "Our intention is to identify other investors quickly and start due diligence on the football club with the intention of making a bid in due course. We have made the administrators aware of our interest and hope to explore this with them further over the days ahead.

    "Wigan Warriors and Wigan Athletic are both local sporting institutions and it is our belief that this is a unique opportunity here to bring the ownership of these two great clubs together under one roof, each operating independently as before, but under a 'Wigan Sporting Partnership' banner."

    "It is envisaged that each club would retain all its training grounds, management and facilities."

  • Guardiola hopes Messi stays at Barcelona Guardiola hopes Messi stays at Barcelona

    Pep Guardiola has reiterated he wants to see Lionel Messi stay at Barcelona.

    Barca talisman Messi is out of contract in 2021 and there is fresh speculation the six-time Ballon d’Or winner may wish to leave the club, who have not won the Champions League since 2015.

    The forward has often been linked with a move to Manchester City to play under his former Camp Nou coach Guardiola.

    But the City boss was reluctant to discuss transfers ahead of Wednesday's Premier League home match against Newcastle United.

    He also stressed his stance on Messi has not changed, having previously expressed his hope the Argentine remains with Barca when questioned on the topic.

    "I'm not going to speak about transfers until the end of the season," he said. "My wish is that Messi is going to stay in Barcelona."

    Asked if a new centre-back was in his plans, he added: "At the end of the season. We still have incredible targets to fight for."

    Meanwhile, Guardiola insisted he had no influence on where City's Champions League last-16 second leg against Real Madrid will be played, with a decision due this week.

    City lead the tie 2-1 after a win at Santiago Bernabeu before the coronavirus lockdown and reports suggested Guardiola had lobbied UEFA over playing the return leg in Manchester rather than at a neutral venue.

    "I am not strong enough to have this impact," he said.

    "I am not a president. They have protocols. I have never spoken with UEFA. I have said many times that we want to play in Manchester but we are going to accept wherever UEFA decide to play.

    "What I want is to play against Madrid. This is what I want but I didn't make phone calls, I don't have this power."

    The club are also getting closer to finding out the verdict from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) as they appeal against their two-year Champions League ban.

    "On July 10 it is the [Champions League quarter-final] draw and [July] 13 will be the sentence," Guardiola added.

    "After that, I will give my opinion. We wait for the resolution from UEFA. This season is not going to change. It is so beautiful what we have in front of us."

  • Guardiola: Man City cannot afford same mistakes against Arsenal and Madrid Guardiola: Man City cannot afford same mistakes against Arsenal and Madrid

    Pep Guardiola has warned his Manchester City players that failure to turn dominance into goals and making mistakes will cost them if repeated against Arsenal and Real Madrid.

    City fell to a shock 1-0 defeat at Southampton on Sunday, their ninth loss of the Premier League campaign leaving them 23 points adrift of champions Liverpool.

    Che Adams lobbed goalkeeper Ederson after City lost possession and despite 26 shots from the visitors – just six of which were on target – it proved to be the only goal of the game.

    Guardiola feels one-off mistakes and his side being unable to take their chances has proven damaging this season.

    He insists there is no room for a repeat ahead of key upcoming matches against Arsenal and Madrid in the FA Cup semi-final and Champions League last 16.

    "We played really good in terms of what we wanted to do, the commitment with the players after two or three successful seasons is still unbelievable," Guardiola said ahead of Wednesday's home league game against Newcastle United.

    "But we are in the point that sometimes we make a mistake that we have to avoid in some games and are punished as a team. And in some games the lack of goals punish us as a team.

    "In the semi-final against Arsenal and Madrid this is the reality. We can play the way we played, I don't have doubts this is going to happen and if we are consistent in both boxes, we have a big chance or opportunity to go through.

    "But if what happened against Southampton and other games this season like Tottenham home and away or Norwich away, where we dropped points, we will be out and Arsenal and Madrid will go through.

    "That is the reality we have to accept. We can be lucky to convert what we produce and defend the less we concede.

    "But I don't have any doubts that the team will be there to compete like we have done all season. That is my feeling. We still have incredible targets to fight for."

    Guardiola acknowledged a lack of consistency compared to title rivals Liverpool was what really set City back.

    He added: "Our consistency has been missing. We've not converted our game plan and in this business you have to win. 

    "When you lose nine games you cannot win the Premier League right now – maybe years ago. The champions have to score above 90 points so when you lose nine games you cannot win the league. 

    "I was not able to solve the problem that we have had since the beginning. I remember the game against Tottenham at home, they had two shots on target and we shot more than 20 and we drew. 

    "It happened in the second game in the league and the last game against Southampton was similar. I was not able to change this dynamic."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.