9 total duels won: Arsenal man repaid Arteta’s show of faith with commanding display – opinion

Just days after Mikel Arteta publicly revealed he is keen on giving Shkodran Mustafi another chance at Arsenal, the German produced the kind of display that would have left his head coach smiling.

“I know his history at this football club, but it is up to him. I told everybody from day one: ‘It is up to you guys. You show me how much you want it, you show me you are committed here, you are going to have a chance and it is going to come this week, next week or the following one’.”

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Mustafi had the perfect opportunity to immediately repay his manager’s faith in him on Saturday afternoon when the Gunners took on Sheffield United at the Emirates. After Sokratis was forced out of contention with an illness, the door was opened for the former Valencia man to grab his chance. And he did exactly that.

Shkodran Mustafi vs Sheffield United - 9 total duels won: Arsenal man repaid Arteta's show of faith with commanding display - opinion

As per Sofascore, his 7.4 match rating was the highest of any Arsenal player on the pitch, and when looking at his underlying numbers, it is easy to see why. He made double the amount of clearances as the Gunners man in second (6), and made a very impressive five interceptions too, often showing alertness to pinch the ball just in front of Oliver McBurnie – the Blades attacker lost possession 20 times due in part to Mustafi’s aggressive defending.

As well as his more competent defensive performance, the 27-year-old also shone on the ball too. He had 82 touches, whilst also boasting a fine passing accuracy of 85%. There was no real calamity or major error, just simply going about his business with the minimum of fuss. Whilst the Gunners couldn’t hang on for a clean sheet, Arteta would no doubt have been proud about how Mustafi went about trying to prove his worth to him.

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After the horrors of some of his high-profile mistakes – who can forget him getting muscled past by Wilfried Zaha as Crystal Palace delivered a hammer blow to Arsenal’s top-four hopes last season? – Mustafi showed that perhaps he is deserving of the second chance that Arteta has evidently given him. Whether it’s simply because of the circumstances or not is irrelevant. The German’s performance against Sheffield United showed enough for him to be given another opportunity to shine.

Meanwhile, this Arsenal transfer target is barely an upgrade on what they already have.

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