Arsenal’s £35million signing made his full debut on Saturday afternoon as the Gunners managed a narrow 2-1 win over a valiant Southampton team.
The German international was brought in after long term injuries to Per Mertesacker and Gabriel Paulista. Mustafi looked good alongside Laurent Koscielny and there is a feeling that the duo could combine to form a very good defensive partnership. Mustafi has a good understanding of the game and that compliments Koscielny’s more erratic and front foot defending well. It seems he could be an improvement on Mertesacker, whilst offering a similar style, Per and Koscielny had previously former a fairly good defensive bond at the back.
On a pretty impressive debut, Mustafi made 3 tackles and won 3 aerial duels. Brought to the club with the label of being a ‘ball playing defender’, Mustafi completed an impressive 89% of his passes, although a couple of his early touches were not the best.
The German international was often the Gunners outlet, making 109 touches, the same as Santi Cazorla and no other player on the pitch made as many. He also made 4 clearances and 1 interception. Mustafi also made 96 passes, which was by far the most of any Arsenal player, Cazorla was 2nd with an impressive 80. He mixed it up with short and long passes too, attempting 7 long balls and being accurate with 2 of them against a Southampton side that sat deep.
After a great start to Rob Holding’s career at Arsenal, even with Gabriel and Mertesacker out, Mustafi will have to work hard to keep his place in the starting eleven. He is expected to keep his place for the Champions League game against Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday and that game will present a whole different test altogether.
In case you were interested, here’s an unfiltered video of absolutely everything Mustafi did yesterday.
There are bigger tests to come for Mustafi but from what we saw on his debut, there are reasons for Arsenal fans to be satisfied with his signing. The £35million cost seemed to not faze the defender who player like he had been at the club for some time. It’s a testament to his quality that Arsenal clearly tried to play through Mustafi and Cazorla to make the team tick. It gives Arsenal options moving forward.