Mustafi: ‘I’m a target for Arsenal fans’
Gunners defender, who has yet to play a single second in the Premier League this season, hits back at criticism
10 October, 2019 — By Steve Barnett
Shkodran Mustafi: ‘The criticism has become escalated and irrational’
DEFENDER Shkodran Mustafi has responded to Arsenal fans’ criticism, insisting “irrational” comments don’t get to him.
The much-maligned German centre-back has “become a target” for a number of Gunners fans who often see him as the weak link in an already fragile defence.
And despite head coach Unai Emery claiming that Mustafi would be “as important a member of his squad as anyone else”, the 27-year-old has rapidly dropped down the pecking order with the likes of Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Calum Chambers, Rob Holding and summer signing David Luiz all now preferred ahead of him.
It looked like Mustafi was heading for the Emirates exit in the summer, but instead the World Cup winner opted to stay and fight for his place.
While he has yet to play a single second in the Premier League this season, he completed 90 minutes in the victories over Eintracht Frankfurt and Standard Liege in the Europa League and the 5-0 win over Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup.
Among the performances that Mustafi addressed was his display at Anfield last season when Arsenal were thrashed 5-1 by Liverpool.
He said: “I had missed three weeks injured and then went into the Liverpool game without training with the team because the coach needed me.
“At half-time we were 4-1 down, I looked bad a few times and injured myself again. Afterwards, I got a lot of negative comments from Arsenal fans on Instagram and Twitter, and articles were written in which I was harshly criticised.”
Mustafi also touched upon last season’s 3-2 defeat against Crystal Palace at the Emirates Stadium when his errors helped lead to goals for Christian Benteke and Wilfried Zaha.
“I’m self-critical enough to realise that I made those mistakes,” he added. “I can also deal with tough criticism. But the criticism has become escalated and irrational.
“I have become a target. At some point, people even blamed me for a defeat I had not played in at all.
“There were days when I really doubted something about myself.
“But at some point I realised that I am mentally strong. Something my wife said helped me a lot. Since then I can handle it better.”